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“Tazama na Tabasamu” (Look and Smile) - Eye and dental clinic in Kiabakari - an effective rescue measure in the desert of the medical services of this nature for the society of north-western Tanzania

Kiabakari is located in Tanzania’s north-eastern region of Mara, close to a highway that connects Musoma (the nearest town, with 150,000 inhabitants, 30 km from Kiabakari) with Mwanza. The Kiabakari health centre has been operating since 2007, when it was built and equipped with a grant from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Poland’s aid programme. In 2007–2015, Poland supported the health centre through implementation of Polish aid–funded development projects, which resulted in the completion of the centre construction project, the provision of additional equipment and furnishings, the expansion of health services available to the poorest inhabitants (among other things, a delivery room was opened), and included workshops in health education and medical volunteering.

Local inhabitants have been experiencing catastrophic dental problems due to the prevalence of malnutrition and general poor health, especially among women and children. The nearest dentist is 200 km away in Kiabakari, while the nearest ophthalmologist is 300 km away (they are both inaccessible to locals). Due to frequent electricity outages and the early sundown, the inhabitants of the Mara region suffer eyesight problems, which are further exacerbated, as pointed out by ophthalmologists, by untreated cataracts. Vitiligo, an acute condition among children and women that requires immediate treatment, is rather prevalent in the area. The Kiabakari health centre receives around 15,000 patients annually. In March 2012, Kiabakari became the capital of the Butiama district, with approximately 330,000 inhabitants. There is therefore a need to expand the centre and the scope of its specialisations, with the objective of meeting the needs of the growing number of inhabitants visiting it.

“Tazama na Tabasamu” (Look and Smile) - Eye and dental clinic in Kiabakari - an effective rescue measure in the desert of the medical services of this nature for the society of north-western Tanzania

The project focuses primarily on providing inhabitants of the Butiama district (approximately 300,000 people) with access to ophthalmic and dental medical services, and on their participation in prophylaxis and health education. The project also aims to improve local staff’s knowledge of ophthalmology and dentistry to a level that will allow them to treat patients independently.

The project scope included the greenfield construction and completion of a new ophthalmology and dentistry clinic comprising one dental surgery, one ophthalmology surgery, two examination rooms, one treatment room, one sterilisation room, one waiting room and one patient reception room. It also included the organisation and execution of six thematic training course units, including four ophthalmic units and two dentistry units, in which a total of 15 health centre staff participated. Furthermore, as a part of global education, the project included the organisation of an exhibition, delivery of topical lectures aimed at the medical community, a talk on the health condition of Kiabakari inhabitants, and a presentation on the project implementation conclusions delivered at a meeting of the Silesian Branch of the Polish Ophthalmology and Optometry Society.

The ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the residents of Kiabakari and the villages surrounding the municipality of Kukirango (a population of approximately 40,000), including both younger and older children, mothers, women and pregnant women, children and adults with vitiligo (including children with vitiligo living in the nearby Lamadi-based camp) and all residents of the community requiring medical consultation and treatment for eye diseases and dental problems. Other beneficiaries of the project are the 15 members of the Kiabakari Health Centre medical staff, who have been trained to help patients in ophthalmology and dentistry as well as eye and mouth hygiene.

“Tazama na Tabasamu” (Look and Smile) - Eye and dental clinic in Kiabakari - an effective rescue measure in the desert of the medical services of this nature for the society of north-western Tanzania

Implementation of this project has enabled the functioning of the clinic and provision of ophthalmological and dental care for the inhabitants of Kiabakari and the Mara region for many years to come. The local staff are competent to provide diagnostics, selection of glasses, extraction of teeth, and education, while ophthalmologists and dentists from Poland will travel to Kiabakari several times a year to provide conservative therapy and conduct dental and ophthalmic treatments.