Members of the NYUCD international program team will ring in the New Year in a very special way — by conducting the first-ever outreach visit to India to provide care for the people of Gadhshisha, a rural village of 60,000 people with no local dentist.
The trip was initiated by Dr. Girish Shah, Clinical Associate Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology & Medicine, who, in addition to having family in India, enjoys a personal relationship with a trustee of the Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust, which 30 years ago established a free hospital clinic and rehabilitation center in the city of Bhuj to provide medical care for people in the surrounding villages, including Gadhshisha. The hospital has only one full-time dentist and two dental assistants.
Each January, the Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust sponsors an annual healthcare festival, which attracts over 130 volunteer physicians from around the world who provide physicals, ENT, ophthalmic, dermatology, urology and cardiology services. Until NYUCD stepped in, however, dental care was not part of the program.
In October, Dr. Shah and Ms. Lauren Meyers, Programs Administrator in the Office of International Programs and Development, made a pre-program site visit to Gadhshisha, where they met with local officials and villagers to plan for the outreach.
After flying to Mumbai (formerly Bombay), traveling to Bhuj to meet the head of the hospital and the sole dentist, and then driving an hour through the desert to reach Gadhshisha, Ms. Meyers and Dr. Shah were warmly welcomed by the villagers and greeted by the village Saint, who blessed the outreach plans.
From December 29 to January 6, 2007, the outreach team, consisting of 15 DDS students and six faculty and staff members, will be in Gadhshisha, where they will set up a temporary clinic in one of the seven local high schools. The clinic will provide preventive, restorative, surgical and educational services. Based on pre-screening done by the hospital, it is estimated that a staggering 26,000 people need dental care. Look for a follow-up story in the next issue of Nexus.