Guatemalan President, Vice President Throw Weight Behind Open Wide Foundation

Posted on April 12, 2016

Board members and the director of the Open Wide Foundation recently met with the newly elected president of Guatemala to discuss a collaborative National Oral Health Care Initiative.

The Open Wide Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring long-lasting, accessible oral health care to underserved communities worldwide.

Open Wide’s board members Imtiaz Manji and Evelyn Paiz, as well as Open Wide’s Director Charity Crawford and President of Guatemala’s mayors’ association Edwin Escobar, met with Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales and Vice President Jafeth Cabrera, M.D. to discuss the details of a three-tier National Oral Health Care Initiative to expand its programs to the national level. The proposal included additional permanent dental clinics, a public service announcement national oral health education campaign and an expanded oral health outreach and prevention pilot program.

Guatemala’s national government is currently implementing the Public Oral Health Education Campaign and the National Association of Mayors is disseminating it to each municipality nationwide for their local use. Interest applications are being accepted for the next set of clinics being constructed. Coordination with the National Secretary of Health for the pilot program is expected to begin this month.

“We said from the start that we wanted Open Wide clinics to be sustainable and scalable, building an enduring template for success” Manji said. “Here we are, four years later, and we can honestly already say: we’ve done it.”

The most recently released numbers back up that claim:

- More than 125,000 patients have been treated

- Nine clinics, including two mobile units, have been opened

- 11,000 home-care packages have been distributed

- 35,000 fluoride washes and oral health talks at local schools

- 40 local young dentists have been trained and mentored

- 75 percent of dentistry in Open Wide clinics is now performed by local dentists

- Patient services has increased by up to 60 percent year-over-year

The foundation, which opened its first clinic in Peronia, Guatemala, four years ago focuses on collaboration, partnering and education/mentoring. Since its inception, the Open Wide Foundation has made strides in not only bringing oral health care to the people of Guatemala, but has inspired other non-dental sustainable humanitarian programs as well.

“In all of last year, there were perhaps four or five organizations like Open Wide,” Manji said. “Under the new administration’s direction, there were more than 20 new such enterprises in February alone. Clearly, the Open Wide formula is a winner.”

To learn more about the Open Wide Foundation, visit

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