Dental outreach programs begin in Africa, Asia

Work the World Dental Outreach 2010 has launched oral health education and outreach programs in Ghana, India, Nepal, and Tanzania.

Through these programs, dental students from all over the world will work with in-country dental hospitals to set up temporary clinics offering screening, treatment, and oral hygiene workshops to resource-poor areas, the organization announced.

Run as a nonprofit venture, the clinical student programs run two-week intensive screening sessions, offering free treatment to those with problems at a makeshift dental clinic equipped with tools and chairs brought from the city. Under the supervision of qualified local dentists, students will perform as much of the work as possible.

"The idea is for students to gain experience working alongside dental professionals from resource-poor countries, while at the same time benefiting rural communities in the countries in which our elective programs are based," said Omar Mohamed, managing director of Work the World, in a press release. "We have put an enormous amount of groundwork into our 2010 projects and as a result have been able to support the dental research work of some of our overseas partners, ensuring that we direct our projects into the neediest areas and provide sustainable oral healthcare programs."

For example, the group's research found that the Ashanti Region has the highest prevalence of oral disease in Ghana, but the region has only one dental clinic and it has been closed since 1968, according to Joe Anane, program manager. "This year our hard work has paid off, and working with Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital we have managed to agree with the hospital chief that if we bring attention to oral health and the dental clinic in Jakobu, he will employ a dentist full time," he said.

The dental outreach programs will begin in Ghana, India, and Nepal on June 21, with a second project on July and a third project in Nepal on August 2. The Zanzibar project commences on July 5 with a second project on July 26. All programs run for two weeks.

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