In July 2010, a team of faculty and administrators from NYUCD met with officials of the Grenadian government to present final results from a National Oral Health Survey conducted the previous January in collaboration with the Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program. The results showed that nearly 20 years after the first Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) survey of children in Grenada found one of the highest, if not the highest, incidence of dental caries in the world, more than eight out of every 10 Grenadian children still suffer from untreated dental decay.
To ameliorate the situation, the NYUCD–Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach program proposed a sustainable, school-based plan, known as the National Oral Health Program, to provide comprehensive oral health care for the 26,000 children living in the tri-island nation of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique. The proposal calls for regularly scheduled fluoride and sealant applications, training teachers for implementation of classroom-based tooth-brushing programs with fluoridated toothpaste, oral health education for students and their caregivers, and mobilizing PTA groups.
The NYUCD team consisted of Dr. Stuart Hirsch, Vice Dean for International Initiatives & Development; Dr. Mark Wolff, Associate Dean for Predoctoral Clinical Education-who led the January 2010 survey; Ms. Lauren Meyers, Director of Global Outreach Programs; and Ms. Rachel Hill, Program Administrator in the Office of International Initiatives & Development. Dr Hirsch and Ms. Hill followed up the July visit with a return visit in October, during which an agreement was reached between the NYUCD–Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program and the Ministries of Health and Education of Grenada to implement the program over a three-year period.
The goals of the program are to:
- Build capacity within the present infrastructure,
- Increase oral health awareness and access to care in the nation,
- Address as many of the children’s oral health needs as possible,
- Develop a sustainable preventive dentistry program,
- Implement preventive measures that will lead to a 50 percent decrease in new decay over three years.
The agreement includes a component to train 15 Grenadian public healthcare providers (five dentists, and 10 other healthcare personnel, including auxiliaries, hygienists, and nurses) selected by the Ministry of Health. Following the three-year period, these Grenadian public health providers will sustain the program.
In addition to programmatic support from the Ministries of Health and Education of Grenada, and clinical funding and supplies provided by NYUCD and Henry Schein Cares, a very generous gift from Colgate-Palmolive as well as sealant material provided by GC America has helped to augment support.
The initial phase of the National Oral Health Program will take place in February 2011. Subsequent dates (tentatively May 2011 and October 2011) will be determined in collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Education of Grenada.