Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the best dental care I could ever get would come from the wildest of places in Kenya. It all began with a recent trip to the Mara and while staying at the Oldarpoi Mara Camp, we learnt of this state-of-the-art dental facility set up in 2010 by Dr. Raymond and Gail Damazo to address the growing dental problem among the local Maasai community.
Tacked away in the heart of the Maasai Mara, the Maasai Dental Clinic, as it is known, provides high quality dental services to locals residing within a 30 km radius of the clinic at absolutely no charge. Imagine that!
Everyone else has to pay though! But there is good news for the payers as well, so do not give up just yet – the rates are so low you will not believe it. For instance, root canal therapy which would normally go for between KES 15,000 and 25,000 in a private clinic in Nairobi costs only KES 1,500 at the Maasai Dental Clinic. Did I mention the X-ray imaging is digital and the supplies are top-of-the-range?
The trip of course, was not of a medical nature originally but since everyone is a strategist of sorts by design and thus driven by the desire to jump at any beneficial opportunity that comes their way – whether planned or not – our safari was quickly remodelled into a medical tourism expedition as we savoured the top-notch dental care we would get at a fraction of the cost.
The beautifully designed facility built on an ornately manicured 1.25 acre compound complete with an electric perimeter fence and its own source of power and water, houses a resident doctor, two medical assistants and a manager. The doctors at the facility offer their services pro bono and in turn get to enjoy free game drives at the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
They are rotated every month and picked from a highly competitive list of some of the best practitioners in the world. “The selection process is so competitive that I just got picked recently after applying for the opportunity to serve here over a year ago”, Dr. Janet Dela Cruz, the outgoing resident dentist from the Philippines who was just completing her 1-month stint at the facility, tells us.
The Clinic is operated by the World Health Dental Organisation in conjunction with the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in the USA. Most of the equipment and cabinetry has been donated by the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County in Washington with assistance from the Auburn Rotary Club, the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club and the Port Townsend Rotary Club.
From Narok town, one can hire a taxi which is about KES 5,000 to and fro. The clinic is near the Siana Springs tented camp and operates from 8am to 4pm on weekdays only. Our taxi guy was Daniel (0721640489). He proved a reliable, hospitable and entertaining guide throughout the 25km or so journey.
What a holiday this turned out to be! Did I mention that we came across a lone lesser flamingo on our way to the clinic roaming about? You can read the full story here.
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