Dr. David Ugai leads Mercy Ships dental team in Guinea teaching 13 dentists and 41 dental students while also providing care to nearly 6,000 patients

On World Oral Health Day, Mercy Ships Recognizes Woodbury Dentist’s Contribution to Dental Professionals in Guinea

Garden Valley, TX, March 20, 2019: On World Oral Health Day, Mercy Ships recognizes lead dentist Dr. David Ugai, a volunteer from Woodbury, MN, for his commitment and dedication to the oral health of patients in Africa. Dr. Ugai heads up the Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building (MCB) program in dentistry which aims to enhance the standards of care within African partner healthcare institutions.

Lead Dentist David Ugai at work

Ugai is currently working in Guinea, West Africa with a team of 13 volunteers from the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest private hospital ship. Through a partnership with the Guinean Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, the facilities, areas, and persons for capacity-building projects were identified.  The MCB program including mentoring and courses are being taught to faculty and students at the Gamal Abdel Nasser University, the only dental school in Guinea.

Ugai and his team have treated nearly 6,000 dental patients since the Africa Mercy arrived in Guinea in August, 2018, in a free clinic available to citizens. But additionally, they are mentoring and training Guinean dentists and dental students via the MCB dental program. This training contains practical and relevant medical capacity-building projects that demonstrate and impart knowledge, skills, and a compassionate, professional attitude to each participant.

The training is essential to help fill the need for more qualified dental professionals. Without access to proper dental care, easily curable dental diseases can deteriorate into serious conditions, some of which require the specialty care of an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) physician or maxillofacial surgeon. Through past work in Guinea, Mercy Ships has confirmed that lack of access to dental, ENT and maxillofacial care represents a serious need in the country.

“Working with the dentists and dental students from Gamal Abdel Nasser University has been a mutually beneficial learning project. The dentists and students are very equipped and motivated to provide excellent care for their patients. Mercy Ships has been able to provide some additional advanced training and clinical skills not available within the limited resources of the university. It has been a privilege and honor to work alongside these very skilled professionals,” Dr. David Ugai, Lead Dentist, Mercy Ships

David Ugai, Lead Dentist, working alongside two local student mentees at the Dental Clinic.

To date, 13 dentists and 41 dental students have participated in the mentoring and training program which will continue the entire 10 months that the Africa Mercy is docked in Guinea. After the field service ends this coming June, Mercy Ships will hand over a fully-renovated, equipped and fully-functioning dental clinic to the university. It is designed to meet the training needs of Gamal’s dental students, ensuring future generations of Guinean dentists are properly equipped to enter into the local dental workforce and provide quality care to patients.

Mercy Ships will remain engaged in this project for one to three years afterwards to assure the project’s sustainability, evaluating how the level of skills and knowledge are being used and shared, while carefully identifying any external variables that may positively or negatively affect the project’s overall success.  Mercy Ships uses this information for continual project design improvements in future field services.

Mercy Ships has volunteer opportunities for dental professionals including hygienists and assistants. Please see www.mercyships.org/volunteer for more information.


About World Oral Health Day:

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated globally every year on 20 March. It is organized by FDI World Dental Federation and is the largest global awareness campaign on oral health.  WOHD spreads messages about good oral hygiene practices to adults and children alike and demonstrates the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being.  Each year, WOHD focuses on a specific theme and reaches out to the public, oral health professionals, and policymakers, who all have a role to play in helping reduce the burden of oral disease.





ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:  Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Learn more about who we are.


For More Information:

Contact: Laura Rebouche ́
U.S. National Media Relations Director Mercy Ships
Office:+1 903.939.7000
Direct:+1 903.939.7127
Email: laura.rebouche@mercyships.org

For Int’l: Diane Rickard
International Media Relations Manager Mercy Ships

Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.