American Goodwill Doctor Provides Liberia Dental Van, Treats 660 Patients

MONROVIA – An American dentist has announced plans to bring a Dental Van valued at US120,000 to help treat persons affected by dental diseases in Liberia, a pronouncement which could see a major boost to the country’s dire Heath needs.

“In the next three months, I am going to bring my own van to Liberia,” Hadi Nouredine, a respected Oregon-based dentist, said in an exclusive interview with The Liberian Network a fortnight ago. “Final preparations are being concluded in order to have it shipped to Liberia.

On a gradual basis, he disclosed two more vans would be added to the list, making it three in total.

“The goal is to ensure that we treat as many dental patients as possible. We will look after people who are in desperate need of treatment across communities. We will also train Liberian dentists and build a dental school here as a way of guaranteeing a long term impact in the society.”

His pronouncement comes as Liberia faces acute shortage for dentists.

With a population of 5.3 million, Liberia, a tiny West African state, has only seven dentists. This means that each of the country’s overstretched tooth doctors is assigned to 761,214 people to cater to, underscoring the huge challenge faced by the Country’s dentistry.

The most common oral disease observed in Liberia is dental caries(or tooth decay), which if left untreated can result in serious complications such as sepsis, a blood tissue illness that are caused by harmful microorganisms which can also lead to organ failure, and death, in the most severe cases. Other oral diseases associated with tooth decay include periodontal diseases, trauma, oral manifestations resulting from general diseases and oral cancers.

It is not clear how many tooth decay patients Liberia has. However, the figure has been calculated in the tens of thousands, experts say.

Oral diseases are also a global public health challenge which poses severe constraints on countries with weak health systems, including Liberia. These effects are profound and affect people through their lifetime, causing severe pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people across the globe.

Nouredine hopes his intervention would help to address the country’s lack of dental training facilities which has greatly undermined its ability to effectively combat oral infections in the country.

“Dental is a movable clinic that is equipped with everything you need to have when it comes to dentistry. It is equipped with dental equipment comprising of electrical sections,” he said while concluding a weeklong dental logistics assessment. “In it, we do testing, extractions, filling, and dental surgery. When it comes, we will drive it into rural Liberia. We will move it into villages, clinics, where we will gather patients in their mass and administer treatment.”

While in the country, Nouredine disclosed that he and his wife Rania Nordean treated 660 patients consisting of both dental and other medical diagnosis. At least two clinics were visited by his team, including an orphanage home. New Georgia Clinic, Pipeline Clinic, and the Bright Star Orphanage home were among places visited.

“Liberia occupies a special place in my heart. This country has been so good to me, and my connection to it goes several years back,” he said. “I was born right here in Liberia and left this place as a small boy.”

Also, in addition to the scheduled arrival of the much needed dental van, the American tooth expert further announced an educational sponsorship program that would see Emmanuel Thomas, a resident of Gardnersville Township, to acquire training abroad as a young Liberian dentist.

“I think he is going to be great,” he said in a direct reference to Emmanuel. “I am going to pay for him to become a dentist. He has got so much passion for this field of study. I am thinking about sending him to China or Gambia,” Nouredine said while thanking Liberians for being supportive   of his work.

“It took so much effort to reach this far. I am grateful to my wife Rania who has always stood by me. Let me also say that Michel Prevatte Wyatt has been wonderful in all of this. Again, let me thank Senator Saah Joseph for his immense support, including other folks – Emmanuel Thomas, Richard Kota, and Gordon Kamara have all played meaningful role here. The nurses and the Liberian have done a great job. They sacrificed their time and took us everywhere we wanted to go. It has been a truly amazing time in Liberia.”

Dr. Hadi Nouredine is an American dentist born to Lebanese parents in Monrovia in 1966. Nouredine and his family left Liberia for Lebanon after the 1980 military coup that saw the violent overthrow of President William R. Tolbert.

From Lebanon, Nouredine later moved to the US and attended  Portland State University for his undergraduate studies, and then received his dental training at the Oregon Health & Science University.

A dedicated volunteer and humanitarian doctor, Nouredine is the founding dentist at Lake Oswego. He is also a long time supporter of Medical Teams International, which offers free dental care to low–income individuals without insurance, including refugees and new immigrants. Dr. Nouredine has had extensive training in dental implants, endodontics (root canal treatment), and IV sedation. By Varney Kamara

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