Transforming Lives & Communities

USC dental clinic has huge impact in Mathare slums

January 15th, 2013

A series of connections between CMF missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California brought a team of 51 dental professionals to the Mathare slums for a week in December for the largest dental outreach in Kenya’s history.

CMF missionaries Keith Ham and Wallace and Mary Kamau got acquainted with Dr. Mike Hyodo, Director of World Ministries International in Nairobi, through their children’s school. Dr. Hyodo has connections with USC’s dental school and brought the area to the attention of the USC Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program.

This program is a nonprofit, student-run organization that organizes multiple trips per year to serve the dental needs of poor communities. Sean Vreeburg, a dental student and one of the founders and organizers of the group, says the goal is to “provide the same standard of care as what we provide at the University of Southern California in the U.S.”

The Nairobi project was the group’s largest so far, and required 10 months of management, planning and logistics. The project was hosted by Wallace and Mary Kamau, the founders and directors of CMF’s Nairobi partner, Missions of Hope International. The Kamaus arranged the clinic location, set up all the accommodations six months in advance, booked buses, security and eating arrangements and pre-screened the patients.  

The team faced many challenges in providing the clinic, including a stringent risk analysis of security measures required by the university, delays in the arrival of dental equipment in Nairobi and even a widespread power outage due to the team’s heavy power use.

The majority of the patients were local children experiencing their first dental visits. More than 95% of the adults who were treated had never received any kind of dental treatment. All the patients also received generous supplies of toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss that were donated by dental supply companies.

The clinic was a huge success and met a very high standard of care, reported organizer Sean Vreeburg. “USC protocol for mobile dental units was carried out here just as in the U.S. We are proud to offer the best quality (of care) available in the world.”

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