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Health Volunteers Overseas' Peruvian project seeks oral and maxillofacial surgeons

October 11, 2017

By David Burger

Working together: From left, Drs. Samuel Allen, David Frost and Ernesto Robles stand outside of the main gate to Universidad de San Martin de Porres in Peru, on a visit to the dental school. Dr. Allen is director, along with Dr. Robles, of the Craniofacial Center of the Hospital Regional Docente Las Mecedes in Chicalayo, Peru. Dr. Frost is a North Carolina-based oral and maxillofacial surgeon and Health Volunteers Overseas volunteer.
Chicalayo, Peru — Dr. David Frost uses an analogy about starfish to explain his service in Peru.

A young girl is on the beach throwing a starfish back into ocean, Dr. Frost said. An old man watches her and says, "There must be thousands of starfish on this beach. I'm afraid you won't really be able to make much of a difference. The girl responds, "It made a difference to that one."

Dr. Frost is committed to making a difference in one special place.

Dr. Frost, a member of the ADA Foundation International Programs Committee, is the director for a new Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) oral health project at the Craniofacial Center of the Hospital Regional Docente Las Mecedes in Chicalayo, Peru.

The project, run by HVO with support from the ADA Foundation, is seeking oral and maxillofacial surgeons to travel to Peru for one to two weeks to educate local surgeons and ultimately assist in the development of an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program .

Volunteers will seek to improve the quality of patient care by providing clinical and didactic education and training to the center's staff in  Chicalayo, which, as Dr. Frost observed, is underserved, particularly compared to larger Peruvian cities such as Lima.

"It's teachers teaching teachers," said Dr. Frost, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. The instruction, he said, is not just lectures, but also includes one-on-one, hands-on training.

"Oral and maxillofacial surgery, being more hospital-based, is growing rapidly in Peru and the special areas of cleft, craniofacial, temporomandibular joint syndrome and orthonathic treatment are always expanding and looking for educational enhancement," said Dr. Frost. "There are fewer than 50 trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Peru."

Chiclayo is the principal city of the Lambayeque region in northern Peru and is the country's fourth-largest city, with a population of about 600,000 as of 2015.

"Chicalayo is a very interesting and vibrant city about four miles from the coast,"  said Dr. Frost. "There is a busy downtown area and is known as the 'Pearl of the North.'"

HVO is seeking  oral and maxillofacial surgeons who hold a current license to practice to travel to the site. Board certification is also desired. Volunteers must have clinical experience in cleft craniofacial, implant, trauma or benign pathology. Residents will not be considered for this project, but.retired volunteers are encouraged to apply.

Candidates can begin the volunteer process by emailing HVO volunteer placement coordinator Elysabeth Stuehrmann at or visiting

HVO is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve global health through education of the local health workforce in resource-scarce countries.

The ADA Foundation International Programs Committee partners with HVO to oversee the oral health program. HVO's oral health program is also supported by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. The local site director is Dr. Samuel Allen of Lima and Dr. Charles Bloomer is the project co-director.

To learn more about international volunteerism and find a volunteer opportunity, visit the ADA Foundation's international volunteer website, To donate to the ADA Foundation, visit