Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) continues its collaboration with the University of Maryland (UMD) and the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences to launch the first-ever School of Dentistry, which is located within the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda in Kigali. The project is now in year three and several HSDM faculty members have been on the ground working with newly appointed Dean Muhumuza Ibra to design the curriculum, academic organization, and infrastructure for the School of Dentistry (SoD).
Donna Hackley, an instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology; Sawsan Salih, PD13 (dental public health), an instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology; Brittany Seymour, assistant professor of oral health policy and epidemiology; and, Brian Swann, MPH08, an instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology, have been working on the ground in Kigali over the past two years with Dean Ibra and colleagues from UMD. This year, Karl Self, a visiting associate professor from the University of Minnesota, who directs the only dental therapy program in the U.S., as well as Ladan Basiripour, DMD93, a visiting associate professor from Howard University and president of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association, are headed to Rwanda.
Great strides have been made. The first class of dental surgeons matriculated into the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2013 where, like their HSDM peers, they will spend two years with their fellow medical students prior to transitioning over to the SoD. The first class will arrive at the SoD in September of 2015. Once there, they will join their dental therapy classmates, who are already in session as the dental therapy program transferred out of the school of nursing and into the new SoD. HSDM, UMD and SoD faculty have been busy working out competencies for therapists and surgeons as well as how to combine and leverage the resources of the SoD to support the two programs. Students from Harvard College, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Business School are joining HSDM students in an effort to develop and implement SoD research in partnership with Rwandan faculty and students. A collaboration with Tufts University on a national study of oral health status in Rwanda will help gauge our academic programming and workforce planning. It is an exciting and rewarding project – more to come over the next four years!
View this article in the Spring 2015 issue of the Harvard Dental Bulletin.
Photo: The School of Dentistry, which is located within the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda in Kigali, hosted a school oral health promotion at the Kivugiza Primary School for World Oral Health Day 2014. Muhumuza Ibra, Dean, School of Dentistry, is pictured with the school children.