Afghanistan - Dental Relief Project, Kabul

Entrance to the clinic

The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project (ADRP) is run by a non-profit organization established in 2003 by Dr James Rolfe, a Dental Surgeon from Santa Barbara, California with the purpose of providing dental care to needy people of Afghanistan and to staff dental facilities with volunteers to train Afghan people in basic dentistry and dental care.

map from the world factbook



Background and Rationale

The whole of Afghanistan is basically without dental care. Almost thirty years of war has destroyed the technical infrastructure, eliminating many of the essentials for basic living. Most of the Afghan population has complex problems with their teeth and mouth that are results from a whole lifetime of cumulative lack of professional care.

There are over 3,000,000 orphans living in Afghanistan. These orphans live under very primitive conditions. Initially, Dr Rolfe, learning of an orphanage in remote Wardak Province, assembled portable equipment weighing nearly 500 pounds and flew it to Afghanistan in 2002 to provide oral health care for the orphans for the first time in their lives.

As a result he founded the ADRP in 2003. He realized that there was a need to provide a permanent facility within the country to help, assist and aid the large numbers of Afghans that are in constant need of dental care, and simultaneously to train dental technicians from the Afghan population. This has now became a reality after spending 18 months and 4000 hours building a modern self-contained clinic in a shipping container, along with nearly 60 tons of dental equipment and dental supplies that were sent to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2007. To follow the full story, please visit

Dental office

Project Outline
The aims of the Project are:

  • to provide basic dental treatment at no cost to Afghans.
  • to train orphans, widows, handicapped, poor and socially disadvantaged Afghans in dental manpower: as clerks, assisting, hygienists and laboratory technicians at no cost.
  • to facilitate licensed and trained dental professionals to volunteer from around the world to provide care and technical training.

Children attending to the clinic

Children standing in a line

waiting for treatment

waiting for treatment


Used equipment donated by dentists in the U.S was repaired and shipped by sea directly to Afghanistan.

In Nov 2007 two 40-foot containers which has been converted into a self-contained modern clinic units consisting of several x-ray machines, a dental lab, sterilizing room, has been shipped to Afghanistan and set up on a piece of private land in Kabul, adjacent to a volunteer guesthouse, to provide no cost dentistry to the people. The shipment included enough prosthetic denture teeth to make full dentures for 35,000 patients, as an example of what can be expected.

The project helps Afghan in many ways. An agreement signed by the Minister of Public Health allows the training of dental assistants and clerical workers, as well as dental hygienists and dental laboratory technicians. These professions do not exist in Afghanistan at the present time. Dentists trained in Afghanistan are few in number and generally do not practice at the standard of care of the rest of the world.

Many potential patients are afraid to obtain care due to the prevalence of Hepatitis B and AIDS in Afghanistan. The ADRP program teaches Infection Control procedures to dental technicians coming from the underprivileged segment of the population.

Through the agreement with the Health Ministry, non-Afghans receive care at the same fee that they would pay in Dubai, thus saving time and money for foreigners needing dental care in Afghanistan. (This much needed funds are channeled back into the project itself)

Dental assistant

This project provides dental care facilities, volunteers to train orphans and widows as dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dental laboratory technicians. Together they provide dental treatment at no cost to the needy and provide instruction in methods of preventive dental care.

Working on a patient

Working on a patient

The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project (

Dr James Rolfe and children

We would like to thank Dr James Rolfe for providing us the photographs and also supporting us with editing of this presentation.

*This presentation by Zarghuna Momand (2008) is part of a Student Research Project at the Faculty of Odontology, Malmo University, Sweden under the guidance of Dr J. Stjernswärd.