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IN BRIEF Marquette Research IN BRIEF Tanzanian refugees receive dental education from a camp health care worker. ON A MISSION TO IMPROVE REFUGEE DENTAL CARE When Dr. Toni Roucka first arrived at “The biggest concern we had was that clinics at the refugee camps and to provide many patients might return to the dental a 1920s dental chair in the corner of a a two-week training course in emergency clinic with post-operative complications dark room. There was no running water, dental care and health promotion to 12 after treatment,” she says. “What we found no dental X-ray equipment and very little refugee health care workers. was the students followed our instructions space to set up instruments. The floor was a muddy mess. Through lectures and clinical training, the dentists taught refugee workers how to the T.” In fact, of the nearly 2,000 patient visits More than 50,000 refugees living in the to do basic exams and triage procedures, recorded at the clinics from November 2007 Mtabila and Nyarugusu camps in the Kigoma administer anesthesia, manage infections, to August 2009, fewer than one percent region of Tanzania receive dental treatment and prioritize treatments while also stress- returned with pain, swelling or bleeding — — primarily tooth extractions — in these ing the importance of patient management proving to Roucka that the model works. conditions, typically delivered by health care and oral health education. providers with no formal dental training. “When you look at the big picture — food, safety, shelter — dental care is a low priority, but it is a quality of life issue,” says This model for providing access to Next, she hopes to return to Tanzania to monitor the long-term progress of the pro- dental care in refugee camps is the first of gram and then introduce it with a camp its kind, according to Roucka. population in another cultural environment. The focus of the trip was training. She will also continue to provide care Roucka, an assistant professor of general Roucka’s research looked at whether this in the Dominican Republic and other dentistry in Marquette’s School of Dentistry kind of training was self-sustaining, portable nations through Compassionate Dental whose research on refugee dental care was and repeatable. She returned to the camps Care International, a nonprofit agency she published last year in the International in 2008 to evaluate the progress of the founded in 2005 to deliver dental care to Dental Journal. health care workers since the first training those in need. — ALB Improving dental care for underserved 22 dentists in 2007 to establish small dental the Tanzanian refugee camp, she found and to provide a two-week refresher populations is a passion for Roucka. She course. In 2009, she returned once more to first traveled to Tanzania with three other evaluate the program’s success. Discover

Discover 2012

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