The picture says it all – this guy is in pain.
Like most of the people we see during the treatment days on our Dental Volunteer Programme (DVP), he has probably been suffering for some time. A straw poll on a recent programme puts the average at a year – that’s 8,760 hours.
Unthinkable in the UK.
A way of life in Tanzania.
One of my great friends is a guy called Greg. He’s a good six foot tall, played rugby (hard) at school and isn’t particularly bothered by personal discomfort – sleeping out under the stars in winter isn’t uncommon for him. In short, he’s a tough cookie.
Until he got toothache.
He developed problem with one of his teeth earlier this year which flared up and started to cause him severe pain – on a Friday afternoon. Not a great time to try and access a dentist.
But at least he had pain medication on hand.
Until Saturday, when after a sleepless night and the paracetamol no longer having an effect, he headed for the local casualty department. Anti biotics and more pain meds were dispensed and he was sent home.
After another sleepless night, he made the return journey to the hospital, where he begged for something to be done.
The on call Maxillofacial surgeon was summoned, and an emergency extraction performed.
Less than 48 hours – in agony – but problem solved.
Imagine the impact on your life if that 48 hours stretched to 96, a week, a month, a year…
My good friend Tim is a Palliative Care nurse – he looks after people suffering the pain caused by terminal illness. He says nothing is quite like facial pain.
Our DVP volunteers see this all the time.
This morning we waved goodbye to our 19th team. Over the past 2 weeks they have treated close to 800 people with problems just like Greg. The difference is they had been in pain for weeks, months and years.
Even better, the team trained 11 Clinical Officers (one of their classmates will return for further training next time), who serve populations of around 10,000 people, 60% of whom will suffer from dental pain in the coming year.
Hundreds of Tanzanian men, women, and children that will wake up tomorrow free from dental pain. And thousands more this year will be treated by the Clinical Officers our team trained.
A whole load more people that won’t have to suffer for too long.
Bring on DVP #20!