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'Work the World' dental elective in Arusha, Tanzania

Post date: 06/10/2015 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

Pritesh Narsinh is a dental student who volunteered to do a dentistry elective in Tanzania with 'Work the World' and he writes of his experiences.

Pritesh Narsinh is a dental student who volunteered to do a dentistry elective in Tanzania with 'Work the World' and he writes of his experiences.

Flying in over Arusha and seeing the great plains of the Serengeti and the peaks of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro is a great welcome to Africa but it's only the beginning of the awesome times ahead and this is just the beginning of my six weeks dental elective in Tanzania. Work the World makes every part of the dental placement easy. Every day for the six weeks I was there, the staff helped with anything we needed, from organising Swahili classes to finding  the cheapest prices for safari. I think it was a great way to be introduced into Africa for the first time.

Working at a small private clinic was an awesome experience. The first morning I was given my own room to work from, and my very first dental patient had an upper impacted wisdom tooth. The dental work was basic with no wateror suction and occasional power cuts, but we still managed to do extractions, temporary fillings and even some composite restorations! I also became very good at taking radiographs with the 'bisecting angle' technique! Throughout my whole time at the clinic I was never alone and the staff, who were incredibly funny and caring people and happy to teach, always made up for the tough times. The respect they get from the community is also amazing.

As part of my dental elective I also went to the regional hospital for a few days and saw dentistry at a really fast pace. There were no radiographs taken and often there were 3-4 people being injected with anaesthetics at once to save time. The clinic rooms were also incredibly small, but the staff always seemed to make do with what they had. It only cost around 1000 shillings to extract a tooth, which is around 1 US dollar, so there were always lots of dental patients waiting to be treated.
I would recommend going to a hospital as well as a clinic to see the differences between a government and private dental clinic in Tanzania. Both were deprived compared to western standards, but seeing the improvisation with minimal tools can be really impressive.

Outside of the clinic, Tanzania has so many things to offer and safari sits at the top of the list! Being out and sleeping in the Serengeti with hyenas howling around you, elephants walking through your campsite and the amazing landscapes were incredible. Climbing Mount Meru was also a wonderful experience. Reaching the peak after going up in the dark meant we had seen the sun rise over Mount Kilimanjaro and could look down on the clouds! A trip to the tropical island, Zanzibar, is also a must; with golden sandy beaches, crystal clear water and giant turtles on Prison Island. Who wouldn't love it?

To sum up, as a dental student volunteering to do a dental elective for 'Work the World' in Africa showed me so much colour, vibrancy and culture! Work the World gives a well-organised and safe way to explore and learn about the health system. If I could do it again, I would definitely not think twice!

Work the World is the UK's leading provider of dentistry electives for UK and international students in Africa, Asia and South America. We tailor placements to match clinical interests, provide 24/7 support as well as provide full board and accommodation. Find out more about the placements on offer on our website, or speak to someone in person on 01273 573 863.

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