Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project
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In April 2008 Philani opened the doors of its new dental clinic, offering free oral health care and treatment to the children and education to mothers on Philani’s programmes in the informal settlements outside Cape Town. The project was initiated by Swedish dentist Kerstin Lundgren from the Institute of Odontology, University of Göteborg, and is supported and funded by Rotary Clubs in Sweden and Cape Town, as well as Rotary International and the Foundation for Philani Oral Health in Sweden. Comprised of two consulting rooms, the clinic was built in 2007, furnished with dental equipment from Sweden in early December, and officially blessed by Philani’s patron, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, on December 13th, 2007. The clinic constitutes a satellite clinic to the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of the Western Cape.

Initially staffed by a single part-time Oral Hygienist, the clinic’s services were boosted by the assistance of volunteer dentists and dental students from Sweden from time to time. In October 2009, the dental staff complement was expanded by the addition of a second part-time Oral Hygienist who focuses on oral education and screening in the community, and a part-time dentist who provides curative dental services. In January 2010, a Dental Assistant was also hired on a part-time basis to support the dentist. Philani continues to benefit from the services of volunteer dentists from Sweden, allowing for greater curative capacity.

The philosophy

The aim of the project is to focus on preventative dental care, rather than curative, while recognising that treatment for existing conditions is often required in even very young children. The overall aim is to improve the dental health of children in the informal settlements outside Cape Town.

Working with Philani's programmes

Philani’s Outreach Workers are trained in basic dental hygiene to enable them to educate the mothers with whom they work about the importance of good oral health for themselves and their children. Children from the Outreach Programme are referred to the Philani Dental Clinic for screening and treatment. All the children in Philani’s Educare classes are also given regular dental check-ups and treatment when needed.

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