On September 22nd 2018, twelve McGill dentistry students under the supervision of Dr. Omid Kiarash (Director- Division of Periodontics) and Dr. Sara Behmanesh (mission co-director) journeyed to Jamaica on an international humanitarian outreach mission to provide free, essential dental care to the local children and families in an underserved rural community.
The team provided care to a total of 245 local Jamaicans over the course of five days. They also spent time educating the importance of oral hygiene and its connection to overall health. Made possible only through the generosity of many donors and sponsors, they were able to procure all the necessary dental materials and supplies needed to touch the lives of all those who sought care in the local church, no person were turned away. The team performed 135 restorations, 158 extractions, and 36 scalings for a total of 329 treatments, over the span of the five days of care.
The McGill team worked in association with Great Shape! Inc. 1000 Smiles project as well as the Jamaican Ministry of Health. This project is extremely important in rural Jamaica, where there is only one dentist for every 100,000 people. Untreated dental issues can lead to infections, uncontrolled disease and even unemployment.
Two McGill dental students joined this mission last year with great success and this year’s team of 12 dental students and 4 dentists further strengthened the ties with the local community. The people at Great Shape! are hoping that McGill Faculty of Dentistry will continue to work with them and make this an annual initiative.
Dr. Behmanesh and Dr. Kiarash wish to spotlight the great work and initiatives of this year’s student leadership team (student doctors; Matthew Oueis, David Wu, Julie Cai) for helping make this year’s mission a great success.
Special thank you to this year’s volunteer clinical supervisors Dr. Lida Alimorad and Dr. Zahra Taba for their dedication and mentorship. This year’s team comprised of student doctors; Melanie Allard, Irina Gulerez, Rochelle Flanagan, Manelli Hoodfar, Magdalena Klus, Sebastien Michaud, Bianca Saban, Marie-Flore Vallieres, Wen Zhao,Matthew Oueis, David Wu and Julie Cai.
“Dr. B and I feel very blessed to have been part of such a wonderful team surrounded by so many talented individuals, while providing care to those who need it the most. It was a humbling experience.” said the Periodontics Division Director, “Our future is in great hands with this young group of student doctors -soon to graduate. They each pushed themselves through tough physical, environmental and at times even emotional challenges, and showed great character.”
Dr. Kiarash and Dr. Behmanesh have already started preparing for next year’s team and are looking forward to yet another exciting and successful mission. Under their leadership, McGill University became the very first Canadian dental school to join the ranks of reputable U.S. dental schools in providing this joint collaborative pursuit of care to the underserved population of Jamaica.