The third year of TSF’s volunteer cooperation program in partnership with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is nearing completion.
We continued our work to support dentistry, optometry and homeopathy in the three countries targeted by the program, Bolivia, Honduras and Tanzania.
We sent a container filled with equipment to Bolivia, which made it possible to open four dental and optometry clinics. Of the dentistry services implemented in the past year, radiography has become extremely popular: people insist on using it to obtain a precise diagnostic that allows dentists to choose more appropriate treatment than pulling out painful teeth. Many people even travel from El Alto, the huge and disadvantaged suburb of capital La Paz, to the country just so they can access the service.
People reacted similarly when new, low-cost eye exams were recently introduced, which also draw many underprivileged people from the capital. This clearly shows how great the need for such services is, and how difficult it is for people with little income to access them.
The focus of the GAC program in Honduras has been developing the new dispensaries and training local staff. The treatments have had excellent results, especially for chronic or acute health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as infectious and parasitic diseases such as as dengue fever and chikungunya. The patients having received treatment report a high degree of satisfaction. However, following the contested election in Honduras, the social and political situation has deteriorated, which has slowed down the process of sending volunteers to the country.
In Tanzania, local pro¬fessionals continued to receive dentistry and optometry training and the installation of running water in three dental clinics was a highlight—all the more so because a birth centre also benefitted.
All of the optometry and dental clinics as well as the dispensaries initially planned for the volunteer cooperation program with GAC are now open and operational in the three countries. The upcoming year of the program will therefore emphasize ongoing reinforcement of local professionals, awareness and prevention campaigns.