Ortiz-Vigón Clinic is a founder company of Smile is a Foundation. This non-profit foundation fosters, organizes and coordinates projects related to humanitarian aid in the biosanitary field. Smile is a Foundation aims to build up actions in the fields of cooperation and international development in developing countries. It is our Foundation’s desire to meet the needs of most vulnerable people with no access to free healthcare.
The Foundation is born thanks to the project Smiles for Zimbabwe, launched in 2011 by Sergio Morante and Diego Romero. It emerges with the spirit of meeting the needs of most vulnerable people with no access to healthcare in Zimbabwe. It has grown to become what is nowadays, a great group of health professionals with expeience in the field of humanitary cooperation, which maintains the spirit with which the foundation was born.
Sergio, Diego, Alberto, Esperanza, Alfonso… they all are the soul of Smile is a Foundation and they share the aim of making better the life of children, youth and adults who present symptoms.
Since we started working on this project in 2011, we have already fostered 6 campaigns in the field, treated more than 10,000 patients and carried out more than 25,460 odontology treatments. In 2015, we added visual health service and we have checked the vision of more than 2,000 people and we have given more than 2,640 pair of prescription glasses and sunglasses to the local population, a population which has no access to neither oral nor ophthalmologic health system service.
The scope of action is focused on oral health, vision problems and awareness on proper hygiene habits. Moreover, SIF actions have a formative imprint since our professionals spread their knowledge and methods to the clinics’ and hospitals’ health workers there so they can in the future develop the expertise needed and complete the same function as SIF.
There is no discrimination towards any people assisted on the camps: all those needing medical assistance are attended.
We would like our projects to cover more people and we are working on it. We have the best team, and we count on with some enterprises and individuals that support us and we will not let them down.
And speaking about dreams, ours are big. Someday, we would like to carry out cataract surgeries, create a workshop for glass-assembly, develop prosthesis to restore basis masticatory functions and collaborate with other organizations to help build water wells for population, to boost facilities for teaching development and drive primary health care centers. Ultimately, our goal is to improve the living conditions of the population who live in the organization’s action areas.
Five years ago, we dreamed about reaching 8,500 patients, carrying out 20,000 odontology treatments and delivering 300 prescription glasses and 1,000 sunglasses amongst people with vision problems. Those dreams not only have come true, but our expectation have been surpassed.
“On the road” assistance caravan
At the end of 2016 and for the last campaign we have carried out, we fostered a mobile caravan to assist patients “on the road”. A whole day focused on providing assistance and a day to move from one place to another in order to cover the whole area in which we operate. Intervention point are stablished in the areas that a great flow of population can be found. Local clinics are not well equipped neither in terms of material nor doctors, but we take advantage of them to settle our workcamp for a day and give adequate assistance to local people. Smile is a Foundation brings in all the material, the toolkit and the human team. Zimbabwe’s Govern contributes with various dentists and nurses who help us in driving an efficient process.
We see patients of all ages
During our last campaign, in December 2016, we have seen 1,874 patients. More than a third, 35%, are young people aged between 25 and 45.
Every year we build up campaign clinics in 5 different zones, all of them are surrounding the natural park between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. Many times, our clinic is settled next to a school because these are places in which can be found a great flow of people.
But only a 17% of the patients we serve are children and teenagers. The rest are relatives and people living around who come to our caravan because it is the only chance they will have to count on with medical advice.
Prevention is crucial with young people
Although we attend everyone who needs us, we do an intensive work with people under 25. Until 25 years old, our patients’ oral health is not especially severe: only a 20% has lots one or more teeth. But only 50% of people aged 25 and older preserves all their teeth and the 20% has already lost 3 or more teeth. A percentage that raises to 40% of the patients older than 45 and in the case of people aged 65 or older, half of the population hast lost three or more teeth.
In a country like Zimbabwe, where there are no minimum oral health services, oral affections rapidly derive in teeth loss. Curiously, that’s why the distribution of the number of caries is similar in the first and last stages of life: kids aged 5-14 have the same proportion of caries to people aged +65. Anyway, there is a difference between these groups: elder people have finally lost their teeth due to their untreated tooth decays.
During this year’s caravan, we have carried out 3,500 treatments, most of them extractions and approximately the 10% were decays.
High percentage of new patients
The 78% of the patients we have seen during the campaign of 2016 came for the first time to us, while the 17% have previously been attended in the past. Only 5% of the people have come more than twice.
Due to the precarious economy and the precarious health and social assistance, a lot of patients visit us in a situation in which it is impossible to restore the damaged teeth so the only way to avoid pain and infections is the extraction.
Our goal is to regularly make interventions on the field by tracking the entire population. This follow-up will enable the patients who are kids and teenagers nowadays to have access to preventive treatments which will make more probable to better maintain their teeth when they get older.
In fact, more than half of the dental fillings in 2016’s campaign were made for adults aged 25-45 which could still preserve their damaged dental pieces. As of this age, it is difficult to recover the damaged teeth due to the rate of progression of decay pathologies, which in most of the cases had pulp tissue affection and extensive destruction of teeth structure.
However, the extractions analysis done by age groups shows the oral health situation is critic amongst kids and young people. 80% have suffered a tooth extraction and 40% have been forced to lost 2 or more teeth. All this corroborates the need of intensifying efforts to boost prevention campaigns such as we promote in the schools.
- The majority of 2016’s campaigns patients were new ones.
- Due to medical history, most of the interventions were extractions.
- Most of the restorative treatments were carried out to kids and young people.
- It could be interesting to preparer a tracking methodology for some patients for the next year.
- May it should be better to segment the assistance by age groups.
Goals to be developed
- Oral pathologies prevention by teaching kids good eating and hygiene habits with graphic material and hygiene toolkits.
- Educational training with qualified sanitary personnel in the action areas and to develop training programs in Spain for those involved with the project.
During November, 2017, the volunteers who collaborate with the foundation travelled to Zimbabwe to take part again in a new healthcampaign.
The team composed by doctors and opticians has worked on the field together with other volunteers of the foundation for a week and a half in November, and they have visited different populations, achieving spectacular numbers for our project:
- 3.995 attended patients. We have lready overcome 14.000 treated patients if we sum up all the campaigns carried out before.
- 6.759 dental and optical treatments. More than 28.000 dental treatments carried out in total during these years.
- 17 volunteer doctors.
- 2.166 optical checks.
- 3.500 glasses distributed.
- 111.000€ budget.
- 6 optometrists, the team has tripled!
- 17 assistants.
- 7 local medical professionals: 2 dentists, 1 ophthalmologisty and 4 nurses.
This is the seventh campaign on the field since this project was born in 2011.
Special mention for the companies that collaborate with supplies as Inibsa Dental or the company Imvelo Safari Lodges, which make possible the logictic management, relocating the doctorsinto the different towns and hoffering them housing, as well as organizing the assembly of the clinical camps and providin all the material needed to attend the patients.