Burundi- Village Health Works

Our group of four dentists from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine went to Kigutu, Burundi to Village Health Works. We thank Henry Schein for their generosity in donating all of the instruments that were needed to set up an oral surgery clinic. Village Health Works is a very special medical clinic. It is the vision of Deogratias (Deo) Niyizonkiza, the founder of Village Health Works. He is a leading advocate for the most impoverished people in the world. His compassion, expertise and life experience have made him a key voice in global health and development.
An American citizen, Deo was born in rural Burundi where he attended grade school and part of medical school. Arriving alone in the US, his incredible courage, determination and ingenuity led him to Columbia University for his undergraduate education. He went on to study at Harvard’s School of Public Health and Dartmouth Medical School.
In 2006, Deo traveled back to Burundi to establish Village Health Works. Deo’s passion rallied the southern Burundi community of Kigutu into action. With community-donated land and an army of committed volunteers, the clinic opened in December 2007. Deo’s success in building an entirely community-driven health and development organization is unprecedented, and makes Village Health Works unique among NGOs. Burundi is beautiful. It is difficult to reconcile the spectacular beauty and the tragedy of this small country. Burundi is located in east central Africa and shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania. It is home to more than nine million people.Village health works is a medical clinic providing free care to people in one of the poorest countries in the world. In the first four years of operation, they have seen more than 50,000 individual patients and installed solar energy panels to power the facility, a VSAT internet system for communications and Electronic Medical Records, and a 14,000 gallon water collection cistern providing the first ever source of potable water on site and to the surrounding communities.
Our group of four dentists, from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, was invited to come to Village health works to help establish an oral health program. Currently there are no dentists available in rural Burundi. We saw an overwhelming need in the population. Tooth decay, infection and pain were commonplace. We are working with VHW’s to develop a community based oral health prevention program and teach the medical staff how to treat dental infection. All of the instruments needed to perform hundreds of dental extractions were generously donated by the Henry Schein Company.  The dental team was comprised of Drs. Steven Chussid, David Koslovsky, Doron Ringler, Steven Syrop.