Our mission is to connect essential dental services with the most underserved communities in East Africa.

Equipped with an all-terrain vehicle as a base of operations in the field, our model offers unique opportunities for medical and non-medical professionals to help meet the oral health care needs of rural communities.


The Problem

Every day in East Africa, millions of people seek relief from oral pain and discomfort. Oral diseases such as dental caries, periodontal diseases and oral cancers are among the most prevalent noncommunicable diseases worldwide—and the most preventable, if treated in their early stages.

Cavities and gum disease among low-income children and adults often either go untreated or become exacerbated using home remedies due to financial barriers. The pain associated with poor oral health can cause children to miss out on educational activities and adults to miss work. In turn, these issues cause social immobility, reduce income and greatly diminish joy in life.

Without access to a dentist, oral pain can restrict the ability of people to speak, breathe, chew, swallow and even smile.

 
 
“There is an intrinsic link between oral health, general health and quality of life.”
— World Health Assembly

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The Root Causes

In East Africa and much of the world, oral diseases occur primarily due to poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets with high sugar intakes and inadequate exposure to fluorides. Losing teeth due to improper oral hygiene and a lack of dental care is simply seen as a natural consequence of aging.

 
Dr. Joseph Zimmer speaking with patients in Kenya.

Dr. Joseph Zimmer speaking with patients in Kenya.

 

In Africa, the dentist-to-population ratio is estimated at 1:150,000, compared to 1:1,650 in the United States. An unequal distribution of oral health professionals and lack of satisfactory facilities has weakened access to the most rural and vulnerable populations. Currently, the vast majority of dental services in East Africa are concentrated in urban hospitals or private practices where services are unaffordable for low-income families.

With few properly trained oral health professionals in East Africa, it is unrealistic to rely on the public health care infrastructure to deliver services in difficult-to-reach rural regions. As a result, cases of oral disease continue to go untreated. East Africa needs a cost-effective and sustainable plan for intervention that impacts people now, regardless of location or socioeconomic status.


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Our Impact

At Zosseo Overland Support, our model as an all-terrain mobile clinic allows us to connect free and essential dental services with the most underserved regions of East Africa. For many children we serve, our mobile clinic will be their first trip to the dentist. We aim to combine high-quality treatment with preventative care while empowering local communities to achieve good oral health. Every community that we visit will:

  1. Decrease prevalence and overall impact of oral disease;
  2. Gain basic knowledge (and tools) on the prevention of oral diseases and the pathway to proper oral hygiene;
  3. Provide information for a feedback loop that informs future programs

We understand that we’re only part of the solution. Zosseo Overland Support strives to form partnerships and engage in community-level activities that help resolve the root causes of poor oral health. By forming local partnerships with government authorities and engaging with medical professionals in rural areas, we enable health authorities and individual community members to adopt sustainable change that will prevent oral disease after our departure.


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The Long-Term Goal

Our long-term goal is to become a sustainable and dependable contributor to East African communities in need of health care services. We plan to connect care with tens of thousands of children and adults in need.

Zosseo Overland Support strongly believes every individual can contribute to positive social changes across borders. Our approach represents a platform where anyone, health professional or not, can contribute to our mission.