You Ask...What's Happening with the Dental Clinic in Senegal?
I have exciting news to announce for all dental volunteers for the Senegal field service! As we have adjusted our dental program to fit the needs here in Guinea (partnering and collaborating with their dental school), we plan to continue doing the same in Senegal.
After several trips to Senegal and speaking with leaders in their Ministry of Health, it was expressed several times that the dental needs are not close to where the ship will be docked. Senegal has a more developed dental health system than we are used to. The major need is outside of Dakar.
For this reason, the whole dental team will be living off-ship in a team house during the Senegal field service. This will be a major change for our alumni dental team volunteers, but this is a great opportunity to treat patients who are less able to find dental treatment.
Our dental program will consist of two main components: a central clinic (in Sangalkam) located near the team house and a coinciding outreach program to schools in villages nearby. About half of our team will be at the central clinic, while the other half will visit a new school on a weekly basis to provide dental treatment to school-aged children. For cases that are too extensive or not suitable to treat in a school setting, a referral system will be set up for treatment at our central clinic. Many of our volunteer positions this coming year will require working in environments without air-conditioning.
The team house will be over 1 hour away from the ship, so visits to the ship will not be very frequent. We hope to make sure our dental volunteers still have the opportunity to take part in some community events, which we will plan.
We understand if some of you may be disappointed that you will not be staying on the ship this field service. If living off-ship is something you are not comfortable with or do not want to do, there still may be some opportunities on ship (as crew dentist or crew hygienist seeing long-term crew members).
This is not a permanent move for the dental program to be off-ship. The Senegal field service posed several potential problems with our normal way of doing the dental program, so we adjusted accordingly. We fully expect the dental team to be back on the ship for the following field service.