Summer Kenya Update - Building Dental Health Capacity

We were recently given a full update on all developments in Kenya from our partners Kenyan partners. 

Early Childhood caries is still a major problem affecting many children in Kenya. With limited human resource in the oral health sector to deal with this issue, the few available dental personnel are spread thin and can just reach a few parents and children. In Kenya, the number of dentists is just a little over 1,000 for a population of over 42 million people. Most of the dentists are not even working in the public sector, and the few who are in the public service cannot be able to deal with ECC effectively. Further, the population of Paediatric dentists is just about 28 dentists. Due to high levels of poverty, and given most of the children suffering from ECC are from poor families, the majority of the children cannot afford private oral health care provided by those dentists in private practices situated in major cities of the country.

It is for this reason, that the government began a training programme for Community Oral health Officers (COHOs), who are tasked with the role of providing community oral health information and limited dental care. In its pursuit to improve the oral health of the Kenyan child, the Kenya Association of Paediatric Dentists, partnered with Global Child Dental Fund and Colgate Palmolive in organizing Short-term Workshops for COHOs on how to effectively provide oral health education and care to the Kenyan children and their parents. The first Workshop was conducted in July of 2013, followed by the second on in July 2014. On15 July, KAPD and its two partners conducted the third COHO Workshop. The theme of this Workshop was “Towards better oral health for children in Kenya”. The three Workshops have gathered COHOs from all the 47 Counties in Kenya. In effect, KAPD believes this coverage will help to improve the oral health of the child, and through networking those COHOs now trained will be able to share the knowledge and skills gained with others in their regions.

While basically all the workshop, including the last one, were tailored to provide courses that will equip the attendees with knowledge and skills in effective delivery of oral health information to children and their parents, training in preventive measures to apply in the management of ECC, including fluoride applications, sealant application etc. All these courses were in line with the appropriate application of preventive dental disease measures in accordance with what KAPD believes is the present oral health need of the Kenyan children, given the present situation of the oral diseases facing the Kenyan child.

The 15 July 2015 COHO Workshop was opened by Prof. Raman Bedi of Global Child Dental Fund (GCDF), Kenneth and Joska as representatives Colgate Palmolive Company, Dr. Elizabeth Onyiego, the Chief Government Dentist, Prof. A. Kemoli, Chairman of KAPD, Council Members of KAPD and COHOS from every district in Kenya. During the Workshop, presentations by former trainees were received and provided an insight of the gains that have been made through these Workshops in helping prevent oral diseases in Kenyan children. Lively discussions on customary oral health habits were also discussed during the plenary session, and exchange of information on how to approach the issues done through consensus. This Workshop was the last of the three series agreed upon by KAPD, GCDF and CP. However, KAPD, realizing the gains this has brought to the COHOs and the children they look after, hopes that a new partnership with the two sponsors will continue, and hopefully, through the “Smiles and Hopes” programme that KAPD has launched.

The group delegates pictured with Professor Raman Bedi



On the evening of 15 July 2015 at PanAfric Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, a new Association named Paediatric Dentistry Association of East Africa (PDAEA) was launched by Professor Raman Bedi, Chairman of GCDF, based at Kings' College, London. For the first time, the Paediatric dentists or those dentists with interest in Paediatric dentistry came together and formed a regional Association that will address the oral health issues of the children resident in East Africa region. The Association draws its membership from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and is funded by the Global Child Dental Fund.

At the launch, the delegates from the member countries included, Dr. Liya Agzew from Ethiopia, Dr. Rachel Mhaville from Tanzania, Dr. Samantha Kachwinya Murungi from Uganda, Dr. Epimake Kayiranga from Rwanda and all the members of Kenya Association of Paediatric Dentists attended the function for the launch. Speeches were made by all the delegates and which all hailed the formation of the new Association, and all pledged to support the aspiration of the Association in improving the oral health of children and persons with special health care needs from the region. The others who attended and gave speeches were the General Manager of Colgate Palmolive Company, East Africa regions, Mr. Brooks Worko, who was accompanied by Kenneth and Joska of the same company. There were delegates from CFC Stanbic bank, as supporters in the endevour to promote oral health of children.

Professor Kemoli, who is currently the chairman of Kenya Association of Paediatric Dentists and the host of the event, also addressed the meeting. It was announced that the officials of the new Association were Professor Kemoli as Chairman, Dr. Rachel Mhaville as treasurer, Dr. Arabat from Uganda and who had not been able to attend the function was the Secretary.

Professor Kemoli is pictured opposite accepting the position as Chairman of PAEA.

Professor Kemoli also thanked GCDF for the support given to the organizers of PDAEA in realising the formation of this new Association.

Prior to the launch of PDAEA, Professor Bedi together with all the members of KAPD launched the “Smiles and Hopes” for Kenya. This new approach that will simulate the campaign launched in Mexico which integrates basic health measures with oral health. The idea will be to promote hand washing together with tooth brushing, and integrate these simple facets in primary health care as provided by the Government. KAPD hopes to use this approach through the COHO system and integrate this cadre with the personnel providing primary health care in clinics and communities, so that children can be sensitized and adopt the idea of tooth cleaning in the same manor as adoption of prevention of all other diseases.

During the launch of Paediatric Dentistry Association of East Africa (PDAEA), Prof. Raman, who presided over the function, hailed the efforts made by the paediatric dentists in the region in coming together and forming the Association. He hoped that the members of the association will work had towards improving the Oral health of the child in the region, and that GCDF was ready to work with PDAEA in achieving their mission and vision.

Pictured from left to right: Colgate Palmolive General Manager East Afric, Prof. Raman of GCDFund, Dr. Rachel Mhaville from Tanzania & Treasure of PDAES and Prof Arthur Kemoli, Chairman of PDAEA, during a toast to the new Association.















Pictured from left to right: Dr. Epmaque from Rwanda, Dr. Liya from Ethiopia, Dr. Samantha Murungi from Ugands, Worko, GM of CP East Africa and Prof. Raman of GCDFund.