Members of the outreach team.
An improvised dental operatory.
A local nurse collects health questionnaires.
Villagers await treatment.
From left: Mr. Eddie Bergman, cofounder of MCW, Ms. Anna Condoulis, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), and Dr. George Sideris, Long Island University, also participated in the outreach.
T. Vernillo, DDS, PhD
Professor of Oral Pathology
In August 2003, an NYU-led dental team paid a return visit to Tanzania
in East Africa to provide care over a three-week period to hundreds
of medically indigent residents of Songea, a remote district just
north of the Mozambican border. As with our initial 2001 visit to
the Tanzanian village of Arusha, our return trip was sponsored by
Miracle Corners of the World (MCW), a not-for-profit community development
and revitalization organization, with additional generous support
provided by Henry Schein, Inc.
Our team consisted of five licensed dentists, including one dentist
from Zimbabwe, who is pursuing postgraduate studies in South Africa,
myself, and one senior student from the University of Pennsylvania
School of Dental Medicine. We were warmly welcomed by the District
Commissioner of Songea, the Honorable Bertha Mende, and by the Honorable
Health Minister Anna Margareth Abdallah, whose office struggles against
tremendous odds in its efforts to oversee health care for the entire
country. In Songea alone, there are only two dentists to provide care
for nearly 1.2 million people, many of whom have lost relatives and
friends to AIDS.
Working in an improvised dental clinic in a nearby hospital, we treated
some 450 patients, including many with multiple, decayed teeth with
retained root tips and acute facial infections. Each day adults and
their children formed lines outside our clinic, as word spread about
free dental care.
All MCW initiatives are designed for sustainability, so it was a distinct
advantage to be joined by Dr. Jo Frencken of the University of Nijmegen
in The Netherlands, who is an expert in Atraumatic Restorative Treatment
(ART), a technique that he has used in other impoverished countries
to successfully treat minimal carious lesions without portable equipment,
electricity, or anesthesia.
We began to use this technique and also taught it to Dr. Daniel Malekela,
one of the two dentists in Songea, who will subsequently train his
auxiliaries. Dr. Frencken generously provided restorative glass ionomer
and our team donated several sets of ART instruments and restorative
material, important first steps in developing sustainability of our
Our next outreach to Tanzania, tentatively scheduled for August 2004,
will include more dentists, especially from South Africa and Tanzania,
and several NYUCD students. Going forward, we hope to reach out to
additional African countries. To find out more about our work with
MCW, please visit www.miraclecorners.org.
* GC America, Inc., generously
donated glass ionomer for ART. Dr. Stan Hoovers of Henry Schein,
Inc., designed the dental instruments for ART.