Oral Health Care in Tanzania
Using an inter-disciplinary approach to achieve sustainability, we strive to build the capacity of health professionals in Tanzania to tackle the oral health workforce shortage, particularly dentists and dental therapists. We work in partnership with different government bodies, dental institutions, and organizations in the country and align our work with the strategic oral health plan of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Capacity Upgrades at MUHAS School of Dentistry
In 2007, the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) Dental School, which is responsible for training a workforce to meet the needs of 55 million Tanzanians, was on the brink of collapse. Hardly any of the school’s equipment was functioning, staff morale was low, and funds to purchase basic materials for everyday procedures were not available. This prompted MCW Global to bring industry partners together to explore how to upgrade the Tanzania’s only dental school’s equipment and achieve financial sustainability. Since 2008, MCW Global and the MUHAS Dental School have collaborated on a series of infrastructure upgrade projects. Today, the public institution has more than doubled its student intake and increased the number of specialists in the county. It can also afford to purchase consumable materials required to treat the high volume of patients.
Dental Outreach Education and Training for Dental Therapists
Dental therapists, who are considered the ‘backbone of oral health’ in Tanzania, are most often tasked with serving the oral health workforce. With limited funding from the government to support their education, training, and field work, dental therapists often face a lack of preparedness, equipment, and support to conduct dental outreaches in the community. To address this challenge, MCW Global has partnered with the Dental Therapy Training schools in the Mbeya (2014) and Tanga (2016) regions to help train dental therapists to conduct community-based dental outreaches twice a year (October-November and March-April). We have also mobilized the donation of supplies, such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, for these outreaches.