Tanzania has a population of 50 million people, of which 23 million have no access to oral care. Most have never been to a dentist. With no access to treatment, 3-5 years of sustained dental pain is a regular occurrence. Many will go on to die from dental infections that spread to the brain, lungs, heart or other organs. In the past 4 years One World One Smile has treated over 6,000 Tanzanians. This year our goal is to reach 10,000 people, with 20 volunteer dentists and a team of 24 support.
There are fewer than 150 qualified dentists in Tanzania, for a population of 50 million. Not only is there no medical force in situ to handle the oral health needs of the domestic population, there is also a massive refugee population in dire need of treatment. The UNHCR Refugee camps of Nduta, Nyarugusu and Mtendeli have a combined population of 325,000 people. The UNHCR does not include oral care in its health guidelines, and so hundreds of people die from dental complications every year.
We will treat 10,000 patients in a two-phase humanitarian action. We will also educate adults and children about dental care, hygiene and the complications of potentially deadly dental infections, especially as it relates to diabetes and AIDS. This project - due to its unparalleled magnitude - will open the door to the next phase of our mission; the construction of rural dental centers throughout Tanzania. These centres will ensure the long-term improvement of the oral health of Tanzanians.
We will be improving oral health and saving many lives. Also, by building trust with the government and local population we are taking the first step to securing support for our Dental Care Unit Pilot project; a community development project, built around dental centers. The centers will not only provide free treatment via a volunteer program but will also include training for Tanzanian dentists, thereby having a lasting effect on the professional training and education of Tanzanians.