Pioneering something for it to come to life is a phenomenon to take great pride in, and this is the situation with the ten dentistry graduates from the University of Rwanda. The university graduated its own first class of dentists, something which will go a long way in making oral healthcare in Rwanda be in a better position than it is now.
It is an amazing experience which gives Rwanda something to smile about, something to take pride in. It is a Rwandan success story. The successes of Rwanda are being well-documented, and this is the latest feature to such an array of the successes. This first graduating class of dentists is a huge step for the overall welfare of the nation's oral health in the future.
As it stands right now, Rwanda being a country to about 12 million people, is being served by 40 dentists only. The addition of these ten dentists is an enormous stride in alleviating the pressure that the already-practicing dentists experience. The aura of success stemming from this is something to relish not only for Rwanda, but for the whole continent. It is something admirable to emulate.
It becomes more evident when one takes it from the perspective of how the university partnered with Harvard University so that this ambitious project would come to fruition. Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) has been a leading partner in this project since the conception of the idea from as far back as 2011.
Now finally, the effort to launch the new dental school and bachelor of dental surgery degree program at the University of Rwanda has borne some fruits. This achievement is a historic moment for Rwanda, and Donna Hackley, HSDM instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology was more than delighted to see something finally come out from such hard work.
"It is an incredible blessing to be part of this historic moment in Rwanda. It is some of the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding work I’ve ever done," Hackley said.
The project commenced about seven and a half years ago through the concerted efforts of Partners In Health (PIH), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Rwandan ministries of health and education. Through their combined efforts, these entities launched the Rwanda Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program, a program designed to push forth medical education and improve health care delivery systems in the country.
"Given the connection of oral health to overall health, the rise of noncommunicable diseases, and the potential for preventive care to mitigate disease, it was critical that dentistry be included in the program," said Jane Barrow, HSDM associate dean for global and community health.
Dentistry being included in this project was a groundbreaking thing. It was all about starting something new, carving new territory, making history and registering success. And starting something new is not easy, as it is laden with countless obstacles. The dentistry school officially launched in 2013, a five-year program that would result into this success.
The students spent their first two years of training with their medical school classmates at the University of Rwanda’s School of Medicine in Huye before beginning dental training in the capital city of Kigali. They were steadfast in their desire to learn. The inaugural class adopted the nickname "The Pioneerz" and became close friends.
Their hard work and sheer determination have finally paid off and they have something to be proud of, significantly adding to the growth of their country and its oral health. The Pioneerz have the strength to serve their country, and many congratulations to them!
Header Image Credit: The Harvard Gazette