In February 2009, Ecuadent traveled to the city of Esmeraldas in the northwest coastal region of Ecuador for our 19th 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.
Ecuadent’s dental and medical missions to Esmeraldas this year consisted of a team of 38 dedicated volunteers who brought treatment to over 1,000 impoverished children.
Over the course of five treatment days, our dental team treated 926 children and performed 2,435 procedures which included 377 varnish applications, 784 sealants, 298 extractions, 555 restorations, and 398 cleanings.
Our medical team performed 53 surgeries correcting debilitating deformities such as cleft lip, cleft palate, syndactyly and hernias. In addition, Ecuadent’s orthodontist treated an additional 33 patients, creating obturators for 8 children with cleft palates who were unsuitable for surgery.
Ecuadent was also able to distribute donations of toys, clothing, and school supplies to the impoverished families of the children we treated and to an orphanage in Esmeraldas.