As anyone who has ever had a toothache can attest, oral disease is more than an inconvenience. In Zambia, constant dental pain is a reality for most adults. Dental care and preventive services are especially scarce in the vast rural areas outside the capital city of Lusaka. In fact, the entire county of Zambia has fewer than 200 individuals with training to provide dental care.
We work with the Zambian Dental Training School faculty to serve two different communities representative of the country’s needs: the remote village of Muchila in the Southern Province and the Kasisi Children’s Home, the largest orphanage in the country. We provide dental health screenings, preventive services (oral health education, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments), and pain relief (extractions). In Muchila, a trained core of community dental health volunteers provides year-round outreach on oral health while preparing for their own dental therapy careers with support from Options for Children in Zambia.
This approach — prevention and treatment — creates long term improvement in oral health with a concurrent investment in Zambia’s own dental health workforce. Oral health program strategies are based on an assessment of the communities’ needs and designed to be effective and locally sustainable. Our dental health delivery system aligns with the guidelines of the World Health Organization and has been recognized by the Zambian Ministry of Health.