In a southern region of Uganda, only minutes away from the Rwandan border, this catchment area of over 2 million people now has access to dental care thanks to the generosity of many Albertans. The Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO), who currently offers healthcare services to the region, opened its doors to a new dental clinic in September.
The dental clinic is sponsored in part by Kindness in Action (KIA) and Change for Children (CFC), a local Edmonton organization that supports community based development in the global south. The project also received a provincial grant from the Alberta Government’s Community Initiatives Program (CIP), which helped to facilitate a dental health education and prevention program in the region along with the opening of the dental clinic.
KIA and CFC teamed up following the generous donation of dental equipment by retiring Edmonton endodontist, Dr. Tom Mather. His dismantled dental practice was carefully packed and left Canada in January via a shipping container bound to equip KIHEFO with the much needed capacity to provide dental services. The container arrived at the port of Mombasa, Kenya and from there was trucked across the Ugandan border and safely arrived in May.
The Emmanuel Foundation helped in the logistical portion of shipping the container and in ensuring it’s safe passage. The Emmanuel Foundation was able to fill the space in the container, not occupied with dental equipment, with medical supplies that will be put to use in the KIHEFO Community Hospital. Canadian Natural Resources Limited provided a mobile generator, which will help the dental clinic run efficiently due to the unpredictable power supply in the region. The water supply in the region can also be an issue and thanks to donation of a waterless suction system by Dental-Ez this is no longer a concern. Modular Custom Cabinetry outfitted the operatories with a mobile cart and wall units. Sinclair Dental has provided tremendous support by aiding in fundraising activities and by sending technical assistance on-site in Uganda.
In August, following the arrival of the container, Alberta dentists Dr. Daryl Penner and Dr. Dave Maskell along with Kim Penner, RDH travelled to Uganda to assist with the unpacking and re-assembling of the dental equipment. Jocelyn Guillemette, a manager with Sinclair Dental, joined them to ensure that all the dental equipment was properly installed and in working order.
Frank Banza, a local dental health officer, and Joan Namanyma, a dental assistant are now well equipped to do basic dentistry. KIHEFO has contributed to the project by securing the participation of Dr. Kwizera Godfrey, a dentist working at a nearby University, who will supervise the operation of the clinic. Patients will receive services on a sliding scale (according to income level) and based on type of service in order for the clinic to sustain itself.
The collaborative effort seen here in Alberta has been echoed in Uganda by the dental clinic staff, who are eager to provide services not only with the dental clinic walls but also to provide community outreach to outlying areas. With the ability to treat oral disease and improve quality of life, the new dental clinic offers a much-needed dental care addition to the Kigezi region.