During a 10-day outreach mission in August to the southwestern Tanzanian town of Songea, a team of 10 NYUCD faculty, students, and alumni, including one pediatric resident and two pediatric faculty, implemented a preventive program of oral health education, fluoride varnishes, and sealants for 237 local schoolchildren, in addition to providing extractions and restorations for nearly 200 adults, totaling 1,300 treatments in all.
The August trip marks the first time that the team has included a pediatric component, thereby expanding the care that NYUCD, in partnership with Miracle Corners of the World (MCW), a community development group, has been providing since 2001. A Tanzanian dental assistant will reapply the fluoride varnish at three-month intervals and will also provide oral health instruction to the children. When the team returns to Songea next August, they will evaluate the children’s oral health to assess the program’s success.
In areas with little or no regular access to dental care, sealants and fluoride varnishes are our best hope for keeping kids caries-free, said Dr. Amr Moursi, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, who oversaw the pediatric program.
A preventive pediatric oral health program modeled on the one in Tanzania will be included in an NYUCD outreach mission planned for February 2008, to a remote area in Alaska, said Ms. Lauren Meyers, Assistant Director in the Office of the Associate Dean for International Programs and Development, and Program Director for the Tanzanian mission.
Dr. Miriam Robbins, Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology & Medicine, served as the mission’s Clinical Director. As in the past, Henry Schein, Inc., generously donated equipment and supplies.
All photos were taken by Ms. Meyers and posted on an outreach program Web site (http://www.nyucd.phanfare.com/) created by Dr. Richard Weledniger, Clinical Assistant Professor of Cariology & Comprehensive Care, to enable the outreach team and the US-based NYUCD community to view the volunteers’ efforts as they were happening daily.