East Africa: Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi (Trip reports)

East Africa: Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi


Dental Hygienists and Dentists Needed for Expeditions


It takes 8 years to train a dentist, but just 3 years to train a Public Health Dental Officer to give anesthetic, extract teeth, and give antibiotics. We need a few dentists, hygienists and assistants every year, to train these PHDOs in preventive and restorative dental procedures. With a ratio of dentists to population of 1 to 800,000, these PHDOs are essential in Uganda and Rwanda. Service doesn’t get more potent than this; teach them and they continue working after we leave.

Conditions are excellent. English is the official language. You always feel safe…. meet at the airport, stay at clean and secure hotels or Guest Houses, teach at the dental school equipped recently by Rotary.

I am not sure that the Academy is aware of the impact that they and adoptanafricanclinic.org are having in East Africa. We have provided 75 used Adec dental chairs and 20 new Belmont chairs to dental clinics within hospitals and dentals schools in Uganda and Rwanda and trained Dentists, Therapists and Technicians to install, maintain, and repair the equipment we have provided.

We have taught Non-Surgical Periodontal courses (instruments donated to each clinic by the Academy) and 14 hygienists from N America have taught and mentored the dental therapists at their own clinics. Most of the clinicians are LDS but not necessarily members of the Academy.

We have taught courses in ART (Atraumatic Restorative Technique), posterior Amalgam restoration, Anterior Composite restoration and mentored (for at least one week) the Therapists in their own clinics by 10 dentists (most LDS).

Drew followed up on the mentoring with additional 3 day mentoring sessions at each clinic after the others have returned to North America. It is our mission to bring each of our 19 clinics from 98% extraction services to 50% preventive, Outreach and restorative services over the next few years.

We are always in need of Academy mentors to visit Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi at their convenience, to continue the mentoring process!

Dr Cahoon was part of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in May 2011 and was part of the Harvard group which organized the opening of the first Dental School in Rwanda. The goal of the Dental School at KHI, which as a result of the 4 chairs donated in 2012 and the 12 chairs in 2013. KHI opened in Aug 2013 to train the first 15 Rwandan dentists to graduate with a BDS degree in June 2018. KHI had only 3 dental chairs when we began to work with them in 2009.

Thirty ADEC chairs were sent from University of Alberta in June 2013. They were headed for Uganda and their 13 Regional Hospitals. The transportation was funded by LDS Humanitarian Services. Adec trained the dental and technical staff to install, maintain and repair the equipment

at the dental school and the Regional Referral Hospitals.

Drew believed that this project was the most comprehensive program to develop dentistry within an African country. The object of the program is not to extract or restore hundreds of teeth but to train and mentor many local clinicians to ensure the development of a healthy preventive and restorative dental program for these countries! We have treated hundreds of LDS missionaries and prospective missionaries at our clinic at Makerere University in Kampala, since our program of mentoring Ugandan senior dental students began in 2008. Dr. Phil Openshaw of Modesto, California has taken over our work at Makerere and has treated hundreds of LDS Missionaries and others needing his dental services using our equipment at the Dental School.

In February/March of 2017 two of our best clinics in Uganda had progressed to the point that digital office and radiographs were installed. Patterson Dental donated their Eagle Soft Dental Program to be installed in two clinics. The Regional Referral Dental Clinic in Mubende and Mbarara were chosen. We brought over computers and Scan X radiograph processing units. The program was loaded and with many minor miracles we were able to load and initiate the program. For the first time in Uganda, Digital radiographs could be created and used to educate the patients and help convince them to restore teeth instead of extraction. The radiographs also educated the Dentists and Dental Therapists. Up to this point no radiographs were used for any treatment. Teeth were extracted without being able to see potential problems or complications. The two Regional Referral Hospitals had agreed to allow these two clinics, on a trial basis, to start limited private practice. That was the other reason these two clinics received the digital x- rays. With the digital x-rays and dental program a whole new world was opened for the Dentists and Therapists. You have never seen more excited and thankful Dentists than at these two clinics. They have continued to learn the programs and use the X-rays. Since this worked so well, more clinics will receive the program. The clinics that we set up are continuing doing outreach to the schools to educate and screen the children. More work is needed with mentoring and teaching at the clinics.

We visited some of our clinics in Rwanda. We have set up clinics in Orphanges. The Urukundo Foundation Orphanage, better known as Mama Arlene’s orphanage has a very good functioning dental clinic. Troy and Charmaine Michelson were at the clinic mentoring the therapists. They have been going every year for the past 5 years. Another Dentist, Gabriel, from another clinic which we trained in Rwanda has learned some Orthodontics. Once back in the USA Mama Arlene asked if I would gather some orthodontic supplies for the orphanage for as she put it”to treat the poor and needy children of Rwanda” I sent a box with everything they need to start orthodontic treatment. The clinics in Rwanda are very good. They also are very interested in getting access to the Eagle Soft Dental Program. That will be one of our goals in Rwanda. They also are doing well with the outreach program.

The last country visited was Burundi. Drew went two years previous but couldn’t go back because of the problems in the country. The country is now stable. This was the first visit since then. We went thinking we would start teaching and creating a dental school at INSP. Once there, we found another dental school at a Methodist University, Hope Africa University. Christa Mather taught a very good non-surgical perio course at INSP, Drew taught community dentistry and I taught operative dentistry. I brought over 6 Dentiforms to help them with clinical dentistry. We partnered with a foundation called Iprosarude which is set up to provide dentistry and vision to rural Burundi. We interacted with both schools and the Minister of Health of Burundi and decided we would combine both schools at Hope African University. We will be on the ground floor in setting up the school and clinics.. We are planning on sending a large container with 12-15 dental units/chairs, a panorex and other fixed x-ray units, and other dental equipment. We will work with HAU, Iprosarude and the government to set up 3-5 rural clinics and use them as rotations for the students as well as dental therapists treating patients. The Minister of Health has promised to help fund the clinics, provide money for our therapists and patients. They have also promised us safety as we travel throughout the country. Drew,
Christa, and I all felt the Lords hand in our efforts and the doors that were opened for us.

We felt a strong desire to return. The people and students were great. They have a great desire to improve but need our help.Unfortunately about 2 weeks after we returned from Africa Dr. Cahoon and a friend died in a motorcycle accident. This was very unfortunate as he was the driving force promoting dentistry in East Africa. Christa and I along with the help of the Ensign Academy of Dentistry (formerly the Academy of LDS Dentists) will continue what Drew had put in motion.

We need several North American dentists, assistants and hygienists to come to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to train and mentor clinical practitioners at clinics in each of these countries. Our biggest need is in Burundi both with donation of money and equipment. But we also will need mentors to help at the school and the rural clinics. Drew always promised that you will experience a miracle a day in Africa. I think you will experience more than that. The other HUGE benefit of our program is we are teaching the Africans to treat their own people. We are teaching them to fish so they can feed or treat their own people. We also combine fun side trips, safaris. So far I have done white water rafting on the Nile River, visited 3 different game parks, hiked up to see the Mountain Gorillas. Explored a thick bamboo forest to see Brown Monkeys. But the best part is interacting with the people.

Dr. Tom Sorensen (801)597-2858 or rbldds82@gmail.com, nuds82@msn.com Christa Mather (281) 703-6643 or christa.mather@yahoo.com Adoptanafricanclinic.org

Participants will enjoy a wonderful church and professional experience, a 3-day safari, and work with amazing African dental professionals and their patients.

If you are interested, please contact Dr.Tom Sorensen or Christa Mather