From June 28th through July 14th, a team of 34 people from Toronto traveled to Ndalani, Kenya, which is a two hour drive southeast of Nairobi.
The main objective for the team was to use Mully Children’s Family (MCF), a rescue and rehabilitation home for street children, to run free dental and medical clinics from the MCF health center for the surrounding villages. On the team were two physicians, a neuropath/physiotherapist, a pharmacist, a dentist, a dental technician, IT support personnel, and thirteen teenagers.
Prior to our travels, we received a generous donation from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, which included hygiene kids for adults and children and medical and diagnostic supplies and equipment, all of which was brought over to the MCF facility in Kenya.
During the two weeks, we held medical clinics with our team’s two doctors, as well as two local physicians. In the span of nine days, the physicians saw 2510 patients, some of whom walked as long as four hours to see a “Western” doctor. The majority of cases seen included typhoid, malaria, brucellosis, and amebiasis. The team pharmacist had to locally purchase more medications at least three times during our fourteen day visit. Luckily, the older teens on the trip were fast learners, and became pharmacy assistants quickly; helping to dispense over 250 prescriptions each day. One physician who was a trained pain and joint specialist was able to do pain relief injecions for the patients with severe joint pain as well. The medical team worked on average from 8:30 AM to 6-6:30 PM daily.
On the dental side it was a very different story, as there was only one dentist. The first day of clinics brought over 150 dental patients alone. Needless to say, we were behind from the get-go! Our clinic ran from 8:30 AM to 6:30, 7:30, or 8:30 PM. One night we worked until 10:30 PM due to multiple surgical extraction cases. Most patients had walked anywhere from one to four hours to get to the MCF clinic from neighboring villages. Most were treated for extractions, as the teeth were non-restorable. Kenyans have LONG roots!!! Luckily, we also brought a mobile dental unit, and were able to have hand piece and surgical suctioning capabilities. Oral hygiene information was dispensed to all patients, as were toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. As many children were quite small for their age due to nutritional deficiencies, numerous children with crowded dentition were also seen, and eruption pattern education was given to the families. Overall, the dental clinic saw 233 patients in nine days, and extracted 338 teeth. We were so thankful for the donations from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, and were able to make tremendous use of the penlights, bibs, tongue depressors, and oral hygiene kits.
The team was also extremely grateful that a dental technician (who actually works for Henry Schein Canada in Toronto) volunteered his time and expertise to join our team for the two weeks to repair chairs, lights, side delivery units, x-ray machine, sterilizers, compressor, and even medical equipment at MCF. We arrived to a dental clinic with dental equipment that was non-functional, and within a week, we had an almost fully functional two-chair clinic! Our technician was the very first dental technician from North America to visit Mully Children’s Family, and he left them with a fully operational dental clinic, equipment maintenance videos and instructions for all of the equipment. What a blessing he was to MCF!
On behalf of the children and adults in the MCF community and surrounding villages, our utmost gratitude to the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for helping to make healthcare happen, even in Kenya!
Willa Chu, DDS