KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
KIHEFO estimates that the medical doctor to patient ratio in southwestern Uganda is around 1:100,000. The dentist to patient ratio is even more discouraging. The majority of the population has never been to a dentist, nor have they ever received any kind of education in oral health prevention. Dental health infrastructure is severely lacking in Uganda – a country with a population over 33 million people.
That said, KIHEFO is excited to announce that the Kigongi General Clinic in Kabale-town, where KIHEFO currently offers healthcare services to the public, is soon going to be providing dental healthcare services to communities in southwestern Uganda.
Partnership in Action – KIA, CFCA, and KIHEFO
The dream to equip KIHEFO’s General Clinic with the capacity to provide dental health services has been two years in the running.
It all began with an inquiry from Dr. Tom Mather, a retiring endodonist from Edmonton, Canada, who wanted to donate the equipment from his dental practice to a clinic in the developing world. He contacted Dave Maskell, Vice-President of Kindness in Action (KIA), a Canadian-based organization that facilitates dental health missions and oral health development projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia. KIHEFO was thrilled to partner with KIA via Change for Children Association (CFCA), and host two dental health missions in rural villages of the Kigezi region in February 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Dave contacted Lorraine Swift at CFCA with the news of Dr. Mather’s generous donation. Lorraine, having recently visited Kabale to see KIHEFO’s healthcare projects in 2010, vouched that KIHEFO in southwestern Uganda would be an excellent partner organization to take on the initiative of establishing a dental health clinic.
In July 2012, Kim and Daryl Penner of KIA, a Canadian hygienist and dentist, traveled to Kabale to see first-hand KIHEFO’s health programs, and gain a better understanding of the local context and need for dental health services. They facilitated a basic oral health workshop with KIHEFO’s health and social worker professionals, and returned to Canada, inspired and committed to seeing the project come to fruition.
KIA and CFCA began soliciting for community, government and corporate support to ship the Dr. Mather’s dental equipment from Canada to Uganda, and install it at KIHEFO’s General Clinic in Kabale. This was no easy feat, but slowly funds came together through corporate support and community grants.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited provide a mobile generator, which is important because of the unpredictable power supply in southwestern Uganda. Another problem in the area is an inconsistent water source. Dental vacuum pumps require a lot of water to function, and Dental-Ez was able to solve this problem through their donation of waterless vacuums. Sinclair Dental provided huge support by aiding in fundraising activities and by dispatching technical assistance on-site in Uganda. Finally, Modular Custom Cabinetry (MCC) donated a mobile-cart and cabinetry.
From the Government of Alberta, KIA and CFCA received a provincial grant from the Community Initiatives Program (CIP). CIP also sponsored costs to facilitate a health education and prevention program throughout the Kigezi region.
Canadian Dental Team – Working On-the-Ground
KIHEFO received the shipment of a container filled with dental equipment donations from KIA and CFCA in May 2013. Additionally, The Emmanuel Foundation, based out of Edmonton, Canada, was instrumental in gathering medical health supplies which filled over two-thirds of the shipping space. Medical equipment, included incubators, hospital beds, wheelchairs, an ultrasound machine, and other high-tech medical devices too extensive to list. As well, Lyle Johnson of Emmanuael took care of the logistics required to ship the container from Canada to Uganda.
The equipment crossed the ocean in a large container, arriving at Mombasa Port in Kenya, and eventually arrived via land in Kabale, Uganda.
In late-August 2013, a team of four Canadian dental health professionals from KIA, including Kim and Daryl Penner, Dave Maskell (KIA Vice-President and dentist) and Jocelyn Guillemette, a dental equipment technician with Sinclair Dental arrived in Uganda – excited and ready to see and participate in implementing the Canadian-Ugandan two-year dream of working towards improving dental health in southwestern Uganda.
The future dental health clinic will operate from the front room of KIHEFO’s General Clinic, which has been partitioned by new wooden walls into four rooms. Since their arrival, the Canadian dental team has been busy unpacking, cleaning, and setting up the equipment, and tackling the technical areas of electrical wiring and plumbing.
Ugandan Dental Professionals Ready to Work
KIA is hopeful that the clinic will be “up and running” by the end of next week, before their departure to Canada. KIHEFO has also contributed to the project by securing the participation of Dr. Kwizera Godfrey, a dentist working from Mbarara University. Dr. Godfrey has agreed to supervise the dental health clinic at KIHEFO that will be staffed by his best dental hygienist, and another dental health officer, Banza Frank.
The dental health team, supervised by Dr. Godfrey, will begin offering services to the population, including examinations, extractions, teeth cleanings, fillings, and as well, treating complicated cases through referral to Dr. Godfrey. Services will be available on a sliding-scale (according to the patient’s income) and based on type of service in order for the clinic to be sustained into the future.
Increasing KIHEFO’s Capacity to Improve Dental Health
Through the exciting collaboration between KIHEFO, KIA and CFCA, the dental health clinic in Kabale-town will work towards improving dental health through increased services, and continued dental health outreach in rural communities to educate the public on the importance of dental care and prevention methods (brushing, flossing, rinsing).
The dental clinic will serve as an important training site for Ugandan health professionals, and a referral site for the rural population who are engaged through KIHEFO’s rural health outreach program.
KIHEFO is most excited for the future of the dental clinic, and grateful to the support of Kindness in Action and Change for Children, and all the corporate and community donors in Canada.
To learn more about KIHEFO, please visit our website – click here.