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Transforming Oral and Maxillofacial Care in Tanzania: The Impact of an Intravenous Sedation Program

Tanzania, which has a population of over 63 million, has approximately 15 practicing oral and maxillofacial surgeons. These surgeons have limited access to operating rooms they need to treat patients. The introduction of intravenous sedation would allow them to treat more minor cases outside the operating room, giving them more freedom and flexibility.  

In 2017, HVO volunteer Dr. Frank Bald traveled to Muhimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with HVO’s oral health project to assess what training would be most beneficial for the dental department. He found that oral and maxillofacial surgeons were overwhelmed with the number of patients in need of treatment and were hampered by the limited time available in the operating room. Dr. Bald recognized that a conscious sedation program would help solve this problem and make care both easier and more cost effective. He returned in 2019 to deliver training and collaborate on setting up an intravenous sedation program at the University Dental Clinic of the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science (MUHAS). “For several months prior to the 2019 trip, I sent didactic information to the oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Tanzania,” he says. “Then I brought a complete set of materials to set up a room for IV sedation (all monitors, IV set ups, emergency equipment and medications).” In addition to the donated equipment, Dr. Bald provided training on case selection, sedation procedures, and patient follow-up. This training was the first of its kind provided in Tanzania and resulted in the successful initiation of the first IV conscious sedation program in the country. The hope is that it will become a training center and model to help others across Tanzania set up more IV conscious sedation programs.   

Dr. Bald remains in contact with several oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Muhimbili and has sent them several requested materials. He also consults with them on cases. He will return to Tanzania in the spring of 2024 to continue training and help with new cases.  

For the full story of Dr. Bald’s work, read Establishment of an intravenous conscious sedation service at a University Dental Clinic in Tanzania, which he co-authored and which describes the steps taken to launch the program.