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Masincedane is active in running an Oral Health Project

Dental status in townships

Access to proper dental preventative treatments in townships outside Cape Town is virtually non-existent. Consequently, the oral health status is low. As a matter of fact, a 2017 report in South African Dental Journal (The availability of the basic oral health care package in the Western Cape, SADJ May 2017, Vol 72 No 4 p162 - p166) states that “Dental caries must be recognized as an epidemic in the Western Cape, and basic oral health care should be made available”.


Probably this stems from the fact that many people are ignorant of basic oral hygiene and have a limited awareness of what measures need to be taken to avoid and/or reduce tooth decay. Thus, many children (some 90 %) and adults suffer from severe tooth decay and/or other oral infections. There is, consequently, a strong need for education about oral health and for preventive and curative treatments. Sweets are, regrettably, readily available in the communities at very low prices and that is why parents/caretakers and children, in spite of being poor, can afford to buy sweets. 


Masincedane´s objectives of and ambition with the Oral Health Project:

The objectives of the Project are oral health promotion and disease prevention, basic care and pain relief including the creation of a greater awareness of the importance of oral health, increasing knowledge of oral health and encouraging self responsibility and self reliance in the use of proven preventative measures and methods.

The ambition with the Project is to continue running the Phambili and Ncuma dental clinics and oral health projects.  We want to promote oral health and prevent oral diseases in children and their mothers / caretakers in the Broadland Park and Nomzamo townships through the provision of education, training and dental treatment services – until these clinics may be taken over by the Western Cape Health Department.

The outreach work of the Phambili and Ncuma clinics provides basic dental health education to children at various crèches where these children also are screened (examined) and experience tooth brushing exercises. About half of them are also provided fluoride treatments and fissure sealants etc at the clinics. Children in need for curative treatment are referred to nearby public clinics. Recently Colgate has contacted the clinics and a cooperation including our oral hygienists has started whereby Colgate sponsors with tooth brushes and tooth paste.

Masincedane appreciates that a number of Rotary clubs in the Cape Town area are sponsoring the clinics - among these especially the Kromboom Rotary Club - which indeed contributes to the survival of the clinics.


Both dental clinics are open for volunteering work for South African dental staff.



















a) Rotary

In 2007, Rotary clubs in Gothenburg, Sweden, and in Cape Town raised some US$ 25,000 to establish a two-room dental clinic in the Khayelitsha township. To this end, refurbished dental equipment of some 1 tonne was acquired in Sweden, shipped and installed at the premises of the Philani Nutrition Trust at Site B.


In addition, funds collected by the Swedish Rotary clubs were used to reimburse building costs relating to a larger extension of Philani´s main building intended to house the dental clinic. 


The Philani dental clinic was inaugurated / blessed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 13th December 2007.

In April 2008 an oral hygienist was employed at the clinic and the above mentioned, Rotary clubs provided funds to reimburse the oral hygienist´s salary the first year.


b) The Ncuma Oral Health Foundation (“Ncuma”)

Since Rotary funding was not allowed for dental clinic salaries, a Swedish charity trust, the Ncuma Oral Health Foundation, was formed, also in 2007, to separately collect funds for the dental staff salaries at the new dental clinic. Ncuma is Xhosa and means “smile” in English.

Kerstin Lundgren, dental surgeon and chairperson of Ncuma had many times prior to 2007 visited Philani´s medical clinics in Khayelitsha and Crossroads noticing the big need for dental education and treatment.

In addition to only providing oral health treatments at the clinic, Ncuma realized that outreach activities to primarily crèches and schools were needed in order to get access to as many children as possible. An oral health project was then defined to encompass clinical and outreach oral health educational and preventative treatments to children and their mothers/caretakers. To facilitate and support this learning procedure, the Foundation also took an active part in the running of dental clinics in the townships.

The first dental clinic for Ncuma to operate was the Philani dental clinic.

Later, Ncuma funded the setting up of the Phambili dental clinic and also the Ncuma (Nomzamo) dental clinic – also Ncuma provided funding for the major parts of the oral hygienists´ salaries at the clinics up to the middle of 2019.






c) The Philani dental clinic

From December 2007 to September 2014 Ncuma operated the Philani Oral Health Project in cooperation with the NGO Philani Nutrition Trust. Oral health preventative and curative services as well as educational activities in basic oral health were provided to children throughout the Khayelitsha community.

As per earlier agreement, the Western Cape Department of Health (“WCDOH”) took over the Philani dental clinic with its own staff in October 2014. However, shortly thereafter WCDOH closed this dental clinic because it was announced that a new dental clinic were soon to be opened nearby (ref. Ms. Cheryl Stein, Primary Health Care Manager; as per March 2019, no new dental clinic has been opened by WCDOH).


During the period December 2007 – September 2014 some 20 000 children received both preventative and curative dental treatments at the dental clinic as well as in some 600 crèches. The results were deemed very positive by WCDOH and this project was also recognized as a vital "vehicle" for taking oral health education to pre-school children in Khayelitsha.


A major trend shift was observed by following the clinic’s monthly and yearly statistics from 2007 through 2014 in that more of the children’s teeth were treated with fillings instead of being extracted. It can thus be stated that the educational efforts and fluoride and sealants treatments made during the years have helped more children to keep their teeth instead of having them removed – and with much less infections and pain. Further, improvements in oral health render also much gain in general health. 

d) The Phambili Oral Health Project

In April 2012 Ncuma together with the NGO Phambili Community Development set up an one-room dental clinic in Broadlands Park. As with the Philani dental clinic, refurbished dental equipment was acquired in Sweden, shipped and installed at Phambili´s premises and and the second oral health project was started.

Currently, a half-time employed oral hygienist educates children and their mothers/caretakers in basic oral health at various crèches in the township. The oral hygienist also provides preventative oral care, e.g. tooth polishing, fluoride treatments and fissure sealants.

The Philani dental clinic, refurbished dental equipment was acquired in Sweden, shipped and installed at Phambili´s premises and the second oral health project was started.

e) The Ncuma (Nomzamo) Oral Health Project

In February 2016 a two-room dental clinic was opened by Ncuma in the Nomzamo township. Again, refurbished dental equipment was acquired in Sweden, shipped and installed at Phambili´s premises. For the operation of the Ncuma (Nomzamo) oral health project, a cooperation agreement was entered into between Ncuma and the NGO Masincedane Community Service.

A full-time employed oral hygienist currently educates children and their mothers/caretakers in basic oral health at various crèches in the township. The oral hygienist also provides preventative oral care, e.g. tooth polishing, fluoride treatments and fissure sealants at the clinic.

The day-to-day consumables are provided by WCDOH which has stated that it will take over the financial responsibility of the Nomzamo clinic in two-three years.

In 2017 it was decided to substitute Nomzamo with Ncuma as the dental clinic´s name as well for the oral health project. Also it was agreed that Masincedane would take over the management responsibility over the Phambili dental clinic and its oral health project.

f) University of Western Cape (UWC) and University of Gothenburg

Since 2007 there is an agreement between the Dental Faculties of UWC and the University of Gothenburg regarding dental student exchange whereby dental students can perform their graduate works at the Phambili and Ncuma dental clinics. Based on this, during 2007 – 2018 more than 30 dental students have performed part of their graduate works and provided dental educational assistance for about a month at a time, in the Khayelitsha, Broadlands and Nomzamo communities. More students will do similar graduate works in the coming years at the Phambili and Ncuma dental clinics and at neighbouring township crèches with education and brushing programmes as well as screening activities. The students take part in an ongoing “base-line” study supervised by the two dental faculties mentioned above.


As from 2012 fourteen Swedish oral hygienist students have worked at the Phambili clinic and this is most likely to continue. 

As from 2016 eight Swedish oral hygienist students have worked at the Ncuma clinic and this is most likely to continue.  


g) Volunteering work at the Phambili and Nomzamo dental clinics

For a number of years WCDOH has opposed the idea of allowing volunteering South African private dentists to perform curative oral health treatments at the Ncuma dental clinics. But in February 2017 this permit was finally granted by WCDOH which means that some 20 local dentists (listed by the Rotary Club of Kromboom) can begin working a couple of hours per month at the Phambili and Ncuma dental clinics.

Further, WCDOH has agreed to also furnish curative consumables to be used at the Ncuma and Phambili dental clinics by the volunteering dentists.

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