198118 Access to oral health care in long-term refugee camps; a forgotten population in desperate need

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toni M. Roucka, DDS, MA , School of Dentistry, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Freder Jaramillo, DDS, MPH, MHA , Division of Oral Health, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA
Dental care services in long-term refugee camps have very limited resources and lack a skilled work force to address the needs and demands for dental care. Although dental diseases and oral pain are highly prevalent among refugees, frequently their oral health care needs go unaddressed. Oral health remains alienated from the general health care provided by Non-Government Organizations (NGO's) or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although most refugees arriving to these camps or wait stations are screened by the UNHCR, and health care is provided through international and local NGO's like Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) and the International Red Cross (IRC), this does not include standard dental care.Dental disease is highly prevalent among refugee populations and common oral health problems include dental caries, periodontal disease, functional malocclusion and maxillofacial trauma. Refugees do not control their own destinies and are confronted with a new hostile environment that in many cases differs in language, background, culture, climate, and food. This psychological and physiological pressure adds a layer of complexity when considering the burden of disease, including oral health. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, a team of American dentists in a joint venture between the American Dental Association (ADA), Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) and the Tanzania Red Cross (TRC), visited and provided training in emergency dental care and oral health promotion in two long-term refugee camps in Tanzania. Programs such as this may be a solution to the access to oral health care issue in such camps.

Learning Objectives:
• Identify the need for emergency dental care and oral health promotion  within refugee camp environments • Identify dental care as an important part of the overall healthcare system within refugee camp environments• Describe the unique challenges associated with treating refugee patients • Demonstrate the ways in which oral health care programs can be implemented within refugee camps around the world

Keywords: Oral Health Needs, Access and Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated in oral health projects in refugee camps in Tanzania. I am in the process of developing a training program in emergency dental care in refugee camp environments.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.