Making a Difference in Musoma, Tanzania

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In June 2017, a team of 12 dentists and dental nurses led by Dr. M. K. Vasant, MBE went to Lake Victoria Disability Centre in Musoma, Tanzania to provide urgently needed oral care. The team came together on behalf of two UK-based charitable organizations, the AOG Foundation Trust, Ltd. and Tanzania Development Trust to reach Musoma’s underserved population.

In this blog, hear from Dr. Vasant about the team’s outreach and the one individual whose smile made the trip all the more worthwhile.

During the outreach in Musoma, our team saw several patients and performed routine dentistry.

In addition, we provided disabled and school children with oral health education and free tooth brushes and toothpaste.

However, one patient arrived with something unexpected.

A 25-year old patient came to our team with a benign fibro-osseos lesion measuring some 3cm by 2cm. In what was a possibly life-saving procedure, our team was tasked with removing the lesion.

The young man had traveled 50 miles by bus to the Lake Victorial Diability Centre (LVDC) because he could not close his mouth. The lesion had grown in the upper left premolar and molar region over several years. He had never seen a dentist or a qualified medical personnel, as none was available to him in his hometown.

We were told that the only other available facility for oral surgery would have been in Dar Es Sallam – more than 1000 miles away. This patient would have never been able to afford to travel there, let alone pay for the surgery.

Thankfully, an oral surgeon amongst us, Dr. Tariq Ashraf, was able to perform an impromptu surgery to excise the lesion. The surgery was done under local anesthesia over two and a half hours.

Left untreated, it is very likely that this lesion would have continued to grow. It would have eventually prevented him from being able to close his mouth or chew – which was already proving to be an issue for him for eating.

After his surgery, I could sense his immediate relief because he could close his mouth again.

While we would have liked to keep him there overnight, we do not have in-patient facilities at LVDC. More importantly there was no means of communicating to his relatives that he would not return home before dusk!

As he prepared to return home, he had a treat (a cold, sugary drink), smiled, and was ready to embark on the 50 mile journey back by bus.

I truly believe that this single case made our week’s visit worthwhile.

Dr M.K. Vasant, MBE, is the principal dentist of London-based practice MK Vassant and Associates and registered Specialist in Prosthodontics (Crown and Bridge, Implant and Dentures). 

Henry Schein Dental UK donated health care products for dental treatments to the underserved population in Musoma, Tanzania to the AOG Foundation Trust, Ltd. and Tanzania Development Trust. Henry Schein’s donation is part of its partnership with the International College of Dentists Global Visionary Fund.