about three hours southwest of Mount Kilimanjaro
lies the village of Arusha in Tanzania. Arusha is the home of
more than two million people. It is located about six hours by
car from the capital of Tanzania, Darr es Salaam, and
this past August it was the destination for a three-person
team of NYUCD students and faculty who headed to East
Africa to provide dental care.
In addition to the NYUCD team, the outreach included a
delegation of 20 students from other universities in the
United States. I organized the dental outreach component
with the full support of Dean Alfano and with help from Edward
Bergman, a junior at the NYU School of Continuing and
Professional Studies and a cofounder of a not-for-profit
community development and revitalization organization called
Miracle Corners of the World, Inc., which had built a
community center in Arusha. I worked with Dr. Anthony Vernillo and Ms. Mai Nguyen, 04,
to set up a dental clinic where local residents could be treated.
The clinic had two plastic lounge chairs that were used as dental chairs. Each patient
filled out a questionnaire that had been translated into Swahili. Once the patient was
seated, a full dental evaluation was performed, using a data entry sheet based on a form
obtained by the World Health Association. The majority of patients presented with severe
fluorosis stains on their teeth. I had never seen such yellow and black teeth from fluorosis.
Most patients suffered from thermal sensitivity, some had infections, but overall the
rate of caries was not extremely high, probably because of the fluorosis. Within eight
days, our team had screened and treated over 200 patients, performing procedures ranging
from prophies and fillings to extractions.
During our visit to Arusha, we met the Regional Commissioner Daniel Ole Njoolay, and Dr.
B. S. Lembariti, Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Muhimbili University College of Health
Sciences in Dar es Salaam. Both men expressed interest in staffing our new dental clinic
on a permanent basis through a collaborative effort between NYU and Muhimbili University.
On our last day, we held an opening ceremony for the community center, where hundreds
of families came to show their support and thank us for our services. Personally, I experienced
great satisfaction when the dental clinic was dedicated in memory of my sister, Liana
We plan to return annually to Tanzania. The Arushans have no other option for dental care,
and many said they will wait for us to come back.