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A “Mzungu” with a Vision of Dental Care in Africa

Dr. Drew Cahoon travels throughout Uganda doing all he can to promote oral health.

With 76% of children worldwide affected with oral health disease, dentists in Uganda are being trained to improve oral health in the country.  According to the Minister of Health, Hon.Ruhakana Rugunda (Doctor), “Prevention is easier, cheaper, and empowers the individual.”

Canadian dentist, Dr. Drew Cahoon, is often referred to as a “mzungu” (white skinned person) as he travels throughout Uganda doing all he can to promote oral health, set up outreach programs, and educate dentists and public health dental officers. He partners with Rotary International, Academy of LDS Dentists, Deseret International, and Adopt an African Clinic.  He has paired Rotary Clubs from North America and Uganda along with  dentists from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help fund and mentor the various hospitals.

This year he has brought 37 dental chairs with chair-side equipment. Thirteen Regional Referral Hospitals have been selected to receive 2 chairs each, with additional chairs going to dental school programs.

 As part of the agreement with each hospital, they in turn will conduct 10 Outreach Programs a year in schools in their area and target Primary six pupils because at their age they are expected to have developed permanent teeth. These programs will provide oral hygiene instruction, screening of patients through an oral examination, and the actual filling of cavities. As part of the exercise, five pupils are selected in a class and taken through the process so that their fearful collegues realise that it is free of pain often associated with visits to a dentist. The potential outreach of this program could influence nearly 40,000 people in one year.

On November 5th, Dr. Cahoon joined with the Minister of Health, along with Dr. Amandua Jacinto (Commissioner of Clinical Services), and Dr. Juliet Nabbanja (Principal Dental Surgeon) to hand over the equipment to the various hospitals. Uganda Kampala Mission President Robert Chatfield and his wife attended as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had paid for the equipment to be shipped from Canada.

The following week education courses were conducted at the Mulago Dental School. Dr. Cahoon provided training in preventive dentistry for the dentists and public health dental officers.  Steve Reid, a consultant from A-DEC Incorporated, the manufacturer of the equipment, provided training for the hospital engineers and technicians on how to install, repair and maintain it.

 Dr. Cahoon has come to work in Uganda at least twice a year since 2005.  

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