Tooth care is important for everyone. Too many local children suck sugar cane, drink fizzy drinks and do not brush their teeth. People in the Bwindi area have always waited until they feel pain before seeking help, which has usually been the removal of a tooth by a traditional healer. Since Bwindi Community Hospital opened our dental services with the help of friends from oversees, we have tried to change this culture and improve dental health through education and early intervention.
The dental team in Bwindi is led by Elly Byaruhanga, a public health dental officer. Half of their work is based in the community, focusing on education, prevention and screening for signs of early tooth decay. They visit every school and screen every young mouth, seeing over 1,400 children each week. The team also treats some cases in the community, but more complex problems are seen in the dental laboratory at the Hospital. Preventing dental decay is the best option, but when that has failed our team can use fillings to save a tooth. Extraction is only used as a last resort.
Ashley and Moira Lupin, a dentist and dental assistant from the UK, act as advisors to the team and help them to use the resources that we have in Bwindi to bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people, targeting those most in need. We hope that they will help us to realise our dream of a generation of children growing up without tooth decay.
How you can help
Usually the best way of assisting the Hospital is by making a cash donation, as this helps us to meet our running costs. We are proud to be enabling Ugandan staff to do what they do best in their local environment, and we make sure that we pay them a decent wage. But sometimes people from other countries have skills to share that can improve the services in Bwindi. We manage visitors closely so that they can add value to the existing work taking place in the Hospital and the community, and are careful not to disempower our local staff.