The Central African country of Rwanda experienced in 1994 a genocide where close to one million people were killed over the course of a couple of months. The significant consequences, combined with factors such as extreme poverty and a rapidly worsening HIV/AIDS pandemic, have resulted in a traumatised population struggling to manage a brutal daily life.
The health department in Rwanda conducted a survey looking at the most common reasons for hospital visits in the country: the number one reason was dental and oral disease. In addition the country only has 70 dentists to a population of 12 million. In theory, this means that one dentist has to take care of more than 170.000 patients. WHO recommends a ratio of one dentist per 10,000 people. The situation is not improved by the fact that toothbrushing is rare, sugar consumption is high and so is the general unawareness of the importance of dental health.
Based on the solid results from the project in Rwanda from 2015-2018 Dental Health Without Borders starts up a new project in Rwanda in 2018. The new project focuses on preventing measures.
We are educating local health staff and volunteers to make sure they can handle and prevent infections and dental problems. We are also collaborating with the dental school in Rwanda who are sending their students on field work to teach about dental hygiene and treat tooth ache in villages across the country.
As part of our work with prevention we are working on a political plan by advocating for school based dental initiatives on national level. In 2019 it pays off when the Ministry of Health in Rwanda puts dental health on the agenda. The Ministry publishes an ambitious national strategy for better dental health with TUG as partner. We are now helping with the implementation of the strategy. The project is carried out with financial support from Danida-funds from CISU.
After an initial pilot project, Dental Health Without Borders starts up a project in Rwanda in 2015. The development project runs for three years and includes 13 schools involving approximately 18,000 school children across three districts: Gasabo, Gicumbi, and Nyamagabe.
Our goal is to improve the dental health and general hygiene of the participating children. With better dental health and less tooth ache they are able to participate in school again which ultimately can improve their live possibilities. Through school-based toothbrushing and hand washing programs we strengthen the communities’ and especially the schools’ knowledge of dental care. It also strengthens local capacity to handle and prevent infections and dental issues.
A research carried out at the end of the project in 2018 shows a drastic improvement; the children at our project schools thrive better and participate more. Children with tooth ache decreases 84%, we see 67% less cases of gingivitis and the childrens absence from school drops 54%.
children does not have tooth ache anymore*
children does not have cavities in teeth anymore*
children does not have gingivitis anymore*
*from 2015 to 2018