How are North Carolina and Africa related? UNC Dentistry’s first Malawi Project entails four students traveling to Malawi, a country in Southern Africa, to provide needed oral healthcare and education on AIDS and oral hygiene. Brad Picot, a second year student from Shaker Heights, Ohio was inspired to start the project after working with dentists in Ghana in the summer of 2001. From July 27-August 19 Archie Cook, Chris Durham, Brad Picot, and Alkesh Sura will make efforts in addressing disparities in health and education between the two countries while interacting with the children and dental patients of Malawi.
The Malawi Project 2004 has three main purposes. The first of which is to provide dental care to the citizens of Lilongwe, Malawi, the country’s capital. With 13 dentists for the country’s 10 million people, there is a great disparity in access to care. Malawi’s first and only dental school, through the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine, has been working in conjunction with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry (SOD). While on a two week rotation in the dental clinic, students will participate in research on the oral manifestations of AIDS/HIV. During this time, dental hospital patients will be educated on these manifestations.
The second purpose focuses on oral health and AIDS education. The project team will use an interactive curriculum to implement proactive educational measures in school-aged children. These schools, rural villages and orphanages in Lilongwe have prepared for the students’ arrival by devoting a whole day to their plan. Malawian youth will learn about the importance of oral hygiene, AIDS prevention, and oral manifestations of the disease.
Besides rotating in the dental clinic, educating school children and patients, students hope to learn more about the situation facing developing countries like Malawi. Promoting such a cultural exchange is the third purpose of the project; hence much insight will be gained by staying with host families. SOD students hope to learn just as much from these children and families as they are teaching to them.
It is the vision of the team that the Malawi Project will become an annual event at the school that can hopefully expand to other schools. Hence the team is fundraising for next year’s project. If one has any questions please contact Brad Picot or faculty advisor Dr. Ronald Strauss.