Another milestone for the B2A team

Posted in: Blog, by Mark Topley, on 31st March 2015 | Comments Off on Another milestone for the B2A team

I am so proud I could pop.

A couple of weeks ago we ran our latest training and treatment programme in the Manyara region of Tanzania.

Our practical training and treatment programmes create sustainable access to emergency dental treatment in rural areas. We treat the community for free, train local health workers how to extract teeth safely, and teach both health workers and the population how to prevent dental problems in the future. The training is delivered by a team of volunteer UK dental professionals, and the whole 7 month preparation and execution phase is managed by our team in Tanzania and the UK. We also follow up the trainees for 18 months after the programme. It’s a big job, involving multiple suppliers, government agencies and stakeholders.

Manyara is an area we started work in a couple of years ago and the significance of this programme was that it was to be the first one where there would be no management team or expatriate involvement in the reception, orientation or day to day management of the programme.

What this involved was our local team of a Site Administrator, Monitoring and Evaluation Administrator and driver travelling to the region a full week in advance of the team arriving to make sure that everything was arranged. They met the volunteers off the plane at Kilimanjaro Airport, made sure they were transported safely to their hotel and then carried out the orientation programme with them the following day. We had a fantastic Site Clinical Lead in the shape of Mark Inman, a multiple volunteer who has been a stalwart by our clinical lead team for many years. His input along with his assistant Kathy Davidson and the B2A team was supplemented by videos we have recently recorded, in anticipation of us moving to the next stage of our succession plan in Tanzania – to have the local team run the programmes day to day.

I am so proud because at every stage of the programme and during the preparation, delivery and follow up, everything has been absolutely first class.

11046382_10153112173690446_4456567486910015049_n-2This would have been a great success in itself, but is even more of an achievement due to the huge numbers of patients which this programme saw. Typically we would expect a team like this to see between 400 and 600 patients during the days that they run the training programme. At the last count on the last day this team had seen just over 1,000 patients, an enormous achievement and a testament to their hard work and dedication. Although this isn’t great because it points to a huge need in Manyara, (which we will continue to address over the coming months and years), to process that number of patients through a system safely and train 6 clinical officers (local government health workers) at the same time was a massive achievement. I am pleased to say that 5 out of 6 the clinical officers successfully passed the training and this is in line with our usual 92% success rate.

So all in all, a very successful programme.

But then to the volunteers’  evaluation. We always evaluate our programmes with a 12 point questionnaire which is filled in by the volunteers after the programme and they grade their experience on every stage of the preparation and execution process of the training programme. Our target is to score between 90% and 95% of scores at good, very good and excellent. I was astounded when we received the feedback on Tuesday of last week that the volunteers on this programme had scored every single aspect at 100%!

There are moments in time when you can see in black and white where all of the hard work over the past 10 years has gone, that it really has paid off, and Tuesday was one of those days.

I a10429859_10153073676430446_8976260801748500928_nm so proud of the whole team – of Jo for directing the programme and training and preparing the team so well, of Joyce for managing them excellently, for the team in the UK who have worked so hard to make sure that the volunteers are well prepared, allocated to the right teams and packaged off to Tanzania at the right time, but mostly, I am hugely proud of Haji, Abel and Moses who did such a fantastic job on the ground in Manyara, as well as Joseph our Clinical Director who was part of the training team. Their hard work combined with the professionalism, commitment and sacrifice of our volunteer team (and my huge thanks to them) has made this programme a fabulous milestone.

Huge congratulations to all.

If you would like to take part in a Dental Volunteer Programme, you can find out all you need to know here.

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