Tororo District is located in the east of Uganda near the border with Kenya. With an estimated population of close to 50,000, there has been one dentist. The majority of the population cannot access professional dental services. The community in this area was privileged to host the Dentaid team in February 2017. During that visit the turnout was so overwhelming that not all who turned out could be treated. Dentaid funded me to do follow up outreach clinics in Nabuyoga and Pajwenda in Mulanda subcounty.
The outreach clinic was set up using instruments carried from Mbarara about 470 km away. The mobilization was carried out with the help of the local leaders, the local dentist in the district and the primary school head in one of the schools. People in these communities received free dental education, screening and treatment. In Pajwenda we were able to see 84 patients – 79 adults and 5 children. There were 45 extractions, 11 filings, 9 scaling and 10 referrals. Meanwhile in Nabuyoga, 70 patients were seen consisting of 38 extractions, 7 fillings, 10 scaling and 5 referrals. Several school children attached to one of the local churches also received oral health education on general prevention methods, brushing techniques and had their questions answered.
In both communities, most decayed teeth were not filled indicating a lack of attendance at a dental facility. This indicates lack of awareness and inability to pay for fillings or the service is not available. Both caries and gum disease were widespread among those who attended the outreach clinics. Some of the cavities that needed filings could not be filled without drilling which means they had to be referred to the hospital in Tororo town about 30 km away.
This service, which people received free of charge, ensured that people got to know the different dental diseases along with causes and prevention methods. Many were relieved of chronic pain they had suffered for a long time without treatment. The local leadership in those communities was also sensitized on the roles of the community in tackling dental diseases. The local health workers were encouraged to carry out future outreaches. This is a way of empowering local health workers to reach their own people. Finally, where health systems are weak, it enables filling the gaps and producing a workable model that can be replicated in other places for improved health service delivery. The same can be replicated in other communities.
There is need for continuation of outreaches especially where there are a combination of factors necessary for the success of the outreach in terms of the turn up of the people and participation of the local leadership. These include working with an organized local or community leaders, good mobilization,
As this particular community has not had many dental outreaches, many people remain unreached and unaware of dental services and preventive methods. I therefore think it is necessary to arrange more outreaches in this community. Efforts from Dentaid and other partners that make this possible remain very special.