Learning together to improve oral health and quality of lifeThis summer Cristina Rizea, Tomás Ryan and I spent two weeks in
Tanzania to finalise the plans for EDSA’s new volunteer work programme.
I previously visited Tanzania late last year with Antun Sablek on the kind invitation of Dr Juha Ruotoistenmaki from the Finnish Dental Association. It was on this trip that the initial ideas for the new volunteer programme were formulated.
EDSA’s new volunteer work programme is in collaboration with the Tanzanian Dental Students’ Association (TDSA), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).
The aims of the project are:
To educate school children in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro about oral health
Screen the children for oral diseases and provide treatment if required
Reinforce the WHO’s Fit for School’s initiative set up by the Finnish dental team in the Morogoro schools With these aims in mind we had several meetings at the dental school during our stay in Dar es Salaam to discuss the implementation of the project aims. Our first point of contact was Dr. Emeria Mugonzibwa, head of the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at MUHAS. We were warmly welcomed at the dental school by the Dean Dr. Elison Nathaniel Simon with whom we discussed the project plans. Following this, we met the TDSA members to establish a committee to start the preparations for the project commencing in August 2015.
Following these discussions we decided there would be 35 volunteers for the project next year; 15 student volunteers from Europe, 15 student volunteers from
MUHAS, four supervising dental clinicians and one medical doctor.
The oral hygiene component of the project will include comprehensive oral health education of the school pupils provided by the volunteers. The team will also
provide every pupil with a supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
We aim to implement an adaptation of a WHO / UNICEF programme known as “Fit for School” in the schools visited. This model is currently being used as part
of the Amchi Smiles Programme in Ladakh, India. Initially conducted in the Philippines, the programme consists of once daily, supervised tooth brushing and
hand washing in the school setting. This programme, when studied in the sample of 630,000 children in 22 provinces of the Philippines resulted in a 50% reduction in school absence and illness from communicable disease along with a 40% reduction in smooth surface caries. All at the cost of $0.70 per child per year The outreach arm of the project will take place in Morogoro, which is situated 200km west of Dar es Salaam. It is estimated that the team will spend 5 days in Morogoro in the Mwere primary schools. During our time in Tanzania we visited Morogoro with the Immediate Past President of TDSA, Donasian Kaduri to obtain permission from the local authorities to visit the primary schools. We presented the aims and objectives of
the project to the Municipal Director of Education who granted us permission to visit the primary schools. Following a successful meeting with the headmistresses we were given
a tour of the school and met some of the school children. Mwere A has approximately 600 students and Mwere B 500. During the outreach next year we aim to screen and treat
approximately 100 children each day. We will select 250 students from Mwere A and 250 from Mwere B. Each child will be screened and every child will be given OHI as
well as a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The project proposal will be presented to all delegates at the EDSA Riga meeting in August. Following this we will establish an organising committee and begin preparations and fundraising for the project starting in August 2015. Any financial contributions for this project would be greatly appreciated. For more information about the project please email
Olivia Johnson King is a Dental Undergraduate Student at King’s College London Dental Institute, a Volunteer Work Officer and a member of EDSA