In June, TSF completed the 2015–2020 volunteer cooperation program with Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
Thanks to the compassionate support of Canadian professionals, our efforts to improve and expand dental and eye care in Bolivia and Tanzania have produced long-lasting infrastructure and significantly enhanced the capacities of local staff.
In Bolivia, 61 volunteer cooperants led 81 hands-on and classroom training activities for 88 local professionals, including 43 women, in four dental clinics and four optometry clinics established to support the partners. These clinics are on the Altiplano, a rural region with a low-income population far from healthcare services. Over the course of the program, close to 20,000 people received quality care.
“Before, 90% of our patients underwent extractions. Now, 90% get treatment. It’s a huge relief for the local population,” explains Dr. Edouardo Pacosillo, dentist. In describing how the care delivered has evolved, Dr. Pacosillo also mentions that skills not practised or taught in university have been developed through capacity building.
In fact, the Laja clinic where he works has progressed so much that it is now an authority on treatments and the latest developments in dentistry for the entire province.
“It’s a dream come true. The clinic’s new dental chairs and X-ray machine have benefited an entire population,” says Dr. Pacosillo.
For Rudy Pallarico, a minibus driver, the program’s eye care services have been life-changing. “I had a traffic accident because I couldn’t see well. I lost my driver’s licence and couldn’t work anymore,” he says. “But thanks to the glasses I was given, I can see properly now, and I’ve been able to go back to work!”
In Tanzania, 37 volunteers offered 83 training activities in dentistry and optometry for 95 local professionals, including 59 women, who work in two dental clinics and one optometry clinic established by the program. These clinics are at the Usangi hospital, the Mwanga health centre and the Kifula health centre.
Close to 12,000 people from the Mwanga District, where these health facilities are located, accessed dental and eye care services.
“Every treatment is now available in Mwanga,” says Abdul Salima, a 61-year-old farmer from Kifula who has received dental care. “I no longer have to travel for it. Instead, I can use that time for economic activities and increase my income,” he adds.
According to Nicholaus Lyatuu, TSF’s liaison officer in Tanzania, before 2015, the dental clinics only had rudimentary infrastructure and equipment. “As for eye care, there simply were no clinics,” he says. “These services improve people’s standard of living. For those who are vulnerable, access to specialized healthcare is a bridge to a better life,” adds Lyatuu.
TSF intends to continue supporting its long-standing health partners in Bolivia and Tanzania, so that even more people in remote rural areas can have lasting access to quality, low-cost specialized healthcare.