Last week, a group of Dental Industry Leaders from the UK went on a fact finding trip with Bridge2Aid in Tanzania.
The group visited Kasamwa in Geita District where a Bridge2Aid team was training and treating. They met with the Site Clinical Lead, an experienced dentist with several trips under his belt who is leading the clinical team on this programme. Bridge2Aid’s sustainable model of training first attracted him and has kept him firmly committed ever since. The training team had already registered 99 patients for the morning, with more arriving as word spread. Among the first to arrive that day was an 86 year old man who had started walking before dawn for 4 hours to reach the clinic, having been in pain for 2 years.
The visitors spent several hours touring the clinic and talking to volunteers, Health Workers (the trainees), and the local government dentist. They viewed the treatment in progress, all performed today by the Health Workers, all of whom have passed the 9 day course, and coached by the training dentists who started work with them just last week. They saw the sterilisation processes used and taught to the Health Workers, and heard an oral health education talk given to the group of waiting patients by one of the Health Workers, a key component of Bridge2Aid’s programme.
The visitors gave us these reflections on the day:
Patrick Allen – Henry Schein Dental
“The passion and dedication of the volunteers was incredible and meeting people who have been on 6+ programmes and who clearly will be back again was inspiring. …[this is] a special programme which is clearly creating lasting and sustainable change”
Alison Speak - Director Oasis
“Although I’d been on a B2A training day in the UK , to see, first hand , just what an impact the programme is having was very emotional. Everything I observed today (commitment of volunteers, skills of the clinical officers in training, organisation and admin skills of the employed local staff) confirmed to me that the approach B2A have taken will effect lasting change.”
Jason Newington – FMC
“An amazing and humbling day watching the Bridge2aid volunteers at work. To see the life changing effect their work has on the lives of the local people who have suffered for so long with pain, was truly incredible. Bridge2aid are simply making a massive difference to the community and its clear that the years of hard work and persistence by the team and volunteers has paid off”.
Bob Newsome – Dentisan
“I witnessed great teamwork in play today, between indigenous Tanzanian Clinical Officers and Dental Volunteers from the UK- in less than ideal conditions the rhythm of work and the camaraderie established was a delight and pleasure to see”
Steve Booth – Straumann
“Today was truly an inspiring day in several ways.
“The patients, some clearly in pain and discomfort, were themselves immensely patient and grateful for the treatment they had or were about to receive. For a patient to have chronic dental pain and to be able to relieve it must have a dramatic effect on the quality of their lives.
“The team spirit, respect and closeness of the volunteers was clear to see. The way they supported each other and the Clinical Officers was amazing. How they run such an efficient clinic in such an environment is astonishing and clearly a testament to the quality of the people and the process you have put in place.
“To see all six clinical officers today taking charge of all of the clinical work shows what can be achieved with the right mindset and people. A truly inspiring day in so many ways.”
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