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  1. (left to right) Dr. Cheryl Lampe, Andy Gilbert, Jennifer Cohen, Rebecca Goldberg, Tyrun Ray, Dawn Broyles, and Chris Balsly are pictured outside of Kampala's Langebaek Dental Complex.

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Dental Students Take Mission Trip to Uganda

January, 2009

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."