A dentist with a mission

by Linda Zimmermann/LKO,  2014/03/03

Injections, extracting teeth, drilling – at the thought of the dentist, most Germans have painful memories. At the same time, the heart beats strong and hard, because, of course, we ought to go to our semi-annual control visit.

For the inhabitants of the Ethiopian refugee camp Melkadida, these kinds of ideas are an unimaginable luxury problem. Living at poverty level, dental care isn’t really important for many of the Somalian refugees. A fact, which the voluntary humedica dentist Eugen Schray counteracts with his commitment.

The doctor from the South of Germany has travelled to Ethiopia for four weeks, not only to extract teeth, but also to train the local nurses in dental care. humedica coordinator Linda Zimmermann was there, too:

“I have got practically everything with me – and I am quite autonomous!” Dr. Eugen, as he is being called by everybody here from the beginning on, smiles and proudly presents his medical case with syringes, gloves, disinfectant, dental mirrors, swabs and different instruments.

“It has not been so easy to bring this case here with me as I carried more than the double of the permitted weight! But at the words “dentist” and “refugee camp”, the man at the airport counter turned a blind eye. And now we are here, my case and me.”

The two young men next to him are visibly impressed by the imported collection and are listening carefully as the dentist starts to explain the different instruments to them.

For the following days, humedica nurse Teddy and Fekado, who is Health Officer of the Ethiopian refugee board ARRA, are going to learn how to do local anesthesia and to extract teeth, in order to be able to treat tooth aches, also after Dr. Eugen will have left.

“Before, we couldn’t do much and sent patients back home with painkillers”, says Teddy. “I’m really looking forward to this training and am happy to learn more about dental care, to be able to help our patients better in the future.”

Dr. Eugen nods: “Compared to Germany, we must treat the patients in a different way and our possibilities remain limited”, and he adds: “and unfortunately we haven’t really got an alternative to extracting teeth. But at least, the patients don’t suffer from pain any longer.”

Muslima is the first patient this morning – she has been suffering from a tooth ache for several days. Together with the other refugees she had waited patiently for her treatment and now she is looking at Dr. Eugen hopefully.

The dentist starts the examination with his expert eyes and explains to his assistants why three of the teeth must be extracted. At the injection, Muslima shortly grimaces but she bravely remains still and in the end she even smiles a bit.

Some hours, 53 patients and 81 teeth later, I look at exhausted faces. “This is something you won’t see often in Germany … - so many teeth which must be extracted! I hadn’t anticipated this! And the heat is also quite exhausting. But Teddy and Fekadu are doing things well and learn quickly, I am very pleased”, Dr. Eugen summarizes his first day.

Besides Teddy and Fekadu, Dr. Eugen is going to train two other Health Officers in basic dental care. His scholars curiously observe every movement of the German dentist’s hands and get always safer in treating their own patients. Only some time later, Teddy will treat several women and men daily without any help from someone else. A great achievement, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Dr. Eugen.”

Dear friends and sponsors, please continue your support of our help measures in the refugee camp Melkadida with a directed donation, so that also people in need can get comprehensive medical care. Thank you very much!

      humedica e. V.
      Reference “Famine Relief Ethiopia”
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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