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Keywords:

  • Refugees;
  • oral health care;
  • health promotion;
  • access to care

Objective:  To analyse the demographics surrounding and the sustainability of a course in Emergency Dental Care and Health Promotion developed and taught by a team of dentists from the United States to refugee camp health-care workers in two long-term refugee camps in Western Tanzania.

Methods:  Refugee camp dental patient log books from Mtabila and Nyarugusu camps Kigoma, Tanzania were analysed and demographic data collected on each patient visit from the programme inception in November 2007 until August 2009. Data collection included information relevant to 1961 patient visits. Data were entered into SPSS Statistics 17.0 using the Freq application.

Outcomes:  Patient visit data included demographics involving both the resident camp populations and the surrounding communities. The distribution of patients treated by nationality was: 58% Burundian (Mtabila), 14% Congolese (Nyarugusu), and 28% Tanzanian citizens residing near both camps. Extractions accounted for 95.5% of procedures performed. Recorded incidences of post-operative complications were 1 > % of patient visits. Patient visits were steady over time and a referral system was implemented for complex cases. Health promotion sessions were held in both camps.

Conclusion:  This dental programme has been self-sustaining and is providing some access to care where none existed previously. Programmes such as this may be one solution to the access to dental care problem in long-term refugee camps.