Hundreds of people living in central Haiti received dental care earlier in 2014 thanks to a team of 13 volunteers from Wisconsin who Direct Relief supported with medical supplies such as dental hand instruments and autoclaves.
The Hinche Christian Dental Clinic, led by Lori Schneider and Dr. Tim Brown, recently sent an update from their fourth trip to Hinche where the group helps provide dental care for people who would otherwise go without. Direct Relief has partnered with their team for about a year, providing donations of medical supplies.
“With your help, we are starting to make a difference. It is enjoyable and rewarding to begin to see some of the same children and adults each trip and see that our efforts are helping,” wrote Lori in an email to Direct Relief.
The work the small group is doing is significant in Haiti, where many do not have access to dental care. There’s an average of only one dentist for every 10,000 Haitians, the majority of whom practice in the capital, Port-Au-Prince. Moreover, few Haitians have ever been to a dentist or owned a toothbrush, reports the Huffington Post.
Though the country is battling other major public health threats such as cholera and malnutrition, among others, it’s important to provide dental care as it affects overall wellness. Gum disease can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission, tooth loss can contribute to malnutrition, and oral infections can lead to blood-borne diseases and heart attacks.
To help keep central Haitians healthy, the Hinche Christian Dental Clinic team provides anything from basic cleanings and fluoride treatments to restorations, extractions, and root canals each time they conduct a mission. Every patient leaves with a toothbrush and oral hygiene education.
Direct Relief is privileged to work with this dedicated team of volunteers who are making significant strides in improving dental health for Haitians in need.