A DENTIST from Steep has returned from a two-week adventure in Uganda where she helped to treat nearly 2,000 people in ten days.
Heidi Robinson went to eastern Uganda to help with mobile pain relief clinics for the Ugandan people through the Christian Relief Uganda charity.
Deaths arising from untreated dental abscesses still occur in the African country, so a team of UK dental experts set up mobile clinics in regions where they had never had them before.
Heidi said: “Clinics were usually run in church halls, or school classrooms.
“Upon arrival each day we would find a queue of patients waiting, and assessments would start straight away whilst chairs and instruments were set up indoors.
“The most common treatment of a bad tooth is to extract it. Since there was no electricity where we were working, drilling was out of the question.
“The dentist and therapists became ‘extraction machines’, treating more than 200 patients on some days.
“The ‘post-op’ recovery area was usually outside in the shade of the nearest mango tree, where the patients were given painkillers, antibiotics if necessary and oral hygiene instruction.”
Heidi said the change in culture and language proved to be a bit of a challenge for the team.
“Each district has a different dialect”, she said. “We had to quickly learn to say words such as ‘hello’, ‘pain’, ‘open’, ‘close’ and ‘bite’ in a variety of languages. Hopefully our patients understood us; our efforts certainly amused them!”
Many of the children had never seen white people, or “mzungu” before, but Heidi said they found the strangers fascinating.
The team spent time teaching children about the importance of oral hygeine and how to brush their teeth with a stick.
Heidi added: “The experience was an amazing roller-coaster ride.
“It’s impossible to know the long term impact of these clinics, but they are sure that they have made a positive difference.”