In February 2008, Ecuadent traveled to the city of Esmeraldas in the northwest coastal region of Ecuador for our 18th year of mission work. Most of Esmeraldas’ inhabitants are of Afro-Ecuadorian origin. Until a road network was developed in the 1970s, Esmeraldas was accessible only by sea and, as a result, isolated from the rest of Ecuador. This isolation helped the Afro-Ecuadorians retain their vibrant culture, but also contributed to the region being politically, socially, and economically marginalized. Esmeraldas is now a major sea port and terminus of the Trans-Ecuadorian oil pipeline but much of its population still lives in poverty and lacks access to affordable, quality healthcare.
This year the group consisted of 48 volunteers including plastic and general surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists, an oral surgeon, an orthodontist, dental hygienists, dental assistants, translators, and techs.
The Ecuadent surgical team performed a total of 78 desperately needed surgical procedures. The surgeries were primarily on children with complications associated with cleft lip and palate, congenital abnormalities, and hernias.
The dental team saw 748 children and performed a total of 1,535 procedures – including 354 extractions, 56 orthodontic fittings, 706 restorative procedures, 434 fluoride treatments and cleanings and 156 sealants.