World renown dentist, and Raymond Rotarian, Dr. Drew Cahoon hasn’t just been busy with his many sponsor a dental clinic projects across Africa, which span from Uganda to Rwanda.
He’s also been in the process of setting up a new dental clinic project in Burundi, what is probably the poorest nation in the world, or close to it.
“Basically it’s the biggest project I have ever been involved in, I don’t think there’s anything like it in the world,” said Cahoon, who travels to Africa twice a year for six weeks at a time.
“They have never had a dental school or dental facilities there, and through a miraculous series of events, I met with the government, university and dental officials. So in a four-day visit we went from having no idea what we could do in Burundi, to having confirmation that we will open a dental school in Burundi in 2014 and provide them with 25 to 30 ADEC dental chairs.”
Cahoon has been heavily involved with his “Adopt an African Clinic” projects since 2007, after a humanitarian trip he took with his daughter, Wendy Penny, back in 2005.
The original clinic was set up in Uganda and Cahoon raised $1,200,000 in funds from the Rotary Foundation, 12 other organizations as well as a few individual donors. It was the largest international grant provided to any club in Canada.
He then moved on to open a clinic in Rwanda, which like Uganda’s clinic is sponsored by a dentist or dental clinic in North America. Rwanda is also where Cahoon has been focused primarily for the last five to six years, but since 2014 he’s shifted his concentration back to Uganda.
Currently there are 13 regional referral hospitals in Uganda, each of which have a dental clinic, through the efforts of Cahoon.
“I have teamed up with dentists in Alberta who sponsor the clinics in Uganda, so each sponsor raises $9,000 for each of those 13 hospitals, and adopted a clinic in each of those 13 hospitals,” he said. “So we have provided two dental chairs for each of the hospitals, plus provided all the equipment associated with the dental chair – the compressor, transformer, vacuum-suction system, water-delivery system – and then we have trained all the staff.”
Trainers for the staff in both Rwanda and Uganda were provided by ADEC, and taught Ugandans how to install, maintain and repair the dental equipment.
“Another aspect of that is we have has is we brought hygienists from Canada and the US that come to train people on how to clean teeth. Then they provided each student with two sets of cleaning instruments – which were donated by the Academy of LDS Dentists, out of Provo, Utah,” said Cahoon of the multifaceted approach. “We have also provided courses in restorative dentistry and with each of those courses we have provided them with three sets of restorative dental instruments, plus the materials they need to restore the teeth for the next four months. Funding for that was provided by the Rotary and local hospitals and ensures the program is sustainable.”
Cahoon is also responsible for setting up an outreach program, which travels to different villages and schools in Africa to teach oral hygiene. Fillings are also conducted on these trips, without electricity or even a dental chair.
“You just use your hand instrument to scoop out the decay and replace it with a material called glass-ionomer-cement, which also has fluoride in it and is released into the cavity,” he explained. “It costs $2.50 per tooth.”
For more information on Dr. Drew Cahoon, or his Adopt an African Clinic program, or just to keep up to date on all of Cahoon’s active projects, please visit his website at http://www.adoptanafricanclinic.org.