IsraAID sends Israeli and American dentists to treat thousands of refugees

2 July, 2018

IsraAID has launched a mobile dental clinic in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, supported by the Koret Foundation. Staffed by volunteer dentists from Bloom Dental Group, and utilizing equipment donated by Henry Schein, Inc., the mobile clinic will offer a range of treatments from routine check-ups to surgical procedures for the next week. Lack of access to adequate dental care and oral hygiene education is a major issue affecting the lives of refugees in Kakuma and around the world. Kakuma’s dental clinic has only one permanent dental officer. As the number of displaced people around the world grows to more than 68 million – heights not seen since World War Two – strain on dental and medical services for refugees is likely to grow.

Kakuma is home to over 190,000 refugees from across the region, the majority escaping violence and instability in neighboring South Sudan. Established in remote Turkana County in 1992, and frequently experiencing droughts and famines, Kakuma is one of the world’s oldest and largest refugee camps. Many residents stay for several years, with scant possibility of resettlement and no right to work. One dental clinic serves the entire refugee population, staffed by only one dental officer.

The mobile dental clinic is IsraAID’s latest joint US-Israeli professional mission, part of the organization’s new engagement program piloted in May with a medical delegation to Kakuma led by US-based pediatricians. IsraAID will replicate this model, bringing together Israeli and American professionals, in its humanitarian aid programs around the world in partnership with the Koret Foundation.

Henry Schein, Inc., the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners, has donated more than $26,000 in oral health care supplies and products to equip the clinic. Bloom Dental, a Bay Area dental practice, is sending volunteer dentists to staff the clinic.

Or Mor, IsraAID Kenya Country Director, said: “We are thrilled to operate the dental clinic for the first time in Kakuma. Though a dental clinic exists in Kakuma General Hospital, it is manned only by a technician and only very simple operations are performed. Otherwise, the clinic relies on irregular visits of external dentists. Until recently, the clinic was insufficiently supplied and equipped. We have therefore supplied the clinic with much needed equipment donated by Henry Schein and, as of Monday, are hosting a first team of dentists from California. We hope to start hosting additional teams soon thereafter.”

Dr Lior Tamir, founder of Bloom Dental Group, said:  “Bloom Dental decided to be a part of IsraAID’s mobile dental clinic because we believe that true happiness and prosperity can better be accomplished by helping those in need. IsraAID is the organization that provides aid to those most in need, at the most critical times. And at Bloom Dental we are proud to spearhead this mission.”

Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s co-CEO, said:  “Refugees face many challenges and accessing high-quality health care is among the most important to their quality of life. We have seen firsthand the negative overall health outcomes associated with neglected oral care, and we are confident that this new mobile dental hospital will greatly enhance our ability to serve the health needs of Kakuma’s residents and other displaced people. We thank Henry Schein for its generosity and its company-wide commitment to supporting the health care needs of refugees around the world. A huge thank you also to Bloom Dental for their commitment to this partnership.”

Photo credit: Lior Sperandeo

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