Dental Students Take Mission Trip to Uganda
While many students packed their
bags and headed home for the winter break, a group of OSU dental
students traveled to Kampala, Uganda, to provide local villagers with
free dental care and oral health education — both of which are in
great demand in this underserved region of Africa. The trip was
planned as a collaborative effort with the
Global Youth Partnership
for Africa (GYPA), a non-profit organization
dedicated to fostering understanding, appreciation, and respect
between young American and African student leaders who are the
global decision-makers of tomorrow.
Led by Ohio State dentistry students and faculty member Cheryl
Lampe, the small group of OSU volunteers was greeted by
members of the Makerere (Mulago) University Dental Clinics when they
arrived in Kampala on December 9th. The students were housed in the
university’s guest quarters for the majority of the trip, which
lasted through December 19th.
Ohio State’s College of Dentistry and the dental clinic at Makerere
University first joined forces in 2007, when
Rebecca Goldberg and Charu
Gupta embarked on a research and humanitarian mission to Kampala as
first-year dental students. On that first trip, their efforts were
dedicated in part to gathering information for a research project
that was partially funded by OSU. The focus then was on providing
patients with oral exams, while also noting how many cavities were
present and how many teeth had been extracted.
Having already made a successful excursion to Uganda in 2007,
Goldberg and the other members of the 2008 mission team received funding from private donations to support
the visit, which included: Dr. Cheryl Lampe (OSU
dentistry faculty member); Chris Balsly and Jennifer Cohen (4th year
dental students); and Dawn Broyles, Andy Gilbert and Tyrun Ray (3rd
year dental students).
Equipped with more experience and more hands to help, the December
’08 mission was another success, as dentistry students provided an
increased number of dental treatments for the people in this region.
“We gave dental care to 500 or 600 Ugandans in the village
of Namuwongo outside of Kampala, and in the Makerere Dental School
clinic,” Goldberg said. “We also performed approximately 1000 extractions
and flouride varnish applications for local patients who had never been to a dentist -- and who
have no means of getting dental care.”
In the Makerere dental clinic, OSU dentistry students performed root
canals and provided filling restorations to those in need, and they
donated essential dental health care supplies that
included masks, gloves, amalgam, composite, matrix bands and
stainless steel crowns.
Commenting on the team-building experience
and the efforts made by all of the students who worked long hours
each day in the free clinic, dentistry student Tyrun Ray said, "Our
time in Uganda was very rewarding. We all worked together and used
our knowledge and skills to provide dental care for those who
wouldn't otherwise have any access to dental treatment, and we
learned to work without basic equipment like dental chairs, suction
and lighting." Ray added, "A great bond developed between us, as
care providers, and those whom we served."