Historic milestone for dental healthcare in Malawi

23 Aug 2019

A historic milestone in the development of healthcare in Malawi was reached last week with the induction of the first dental students into the new Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree course at the University of Malawi College of Medicine.

The launch of the BDS degree in Blantyre was attended by the Head of Glasgow Dental School and SMP member Professor Jeremy Bagg and his colleague Senior Lecturer Dr Petrina Sweeney (pictured third and second left), both of whom participated in delivery of the BDS student induction activities.

Professor Bagg and  colleagues at Glasgow Dental School have contributed to the development of the degree’s curriculum as part of the Scottish Government funded MalDent project.

Fifteen students will start their studies this session while a further fifteen will begin a foundation course to prepare them for joining the BDS course in 2020.

The first cohort of qualified dentists to be fully trained in Malawi will graduate in 2024 and enter independent professional practice in 2025 following a one-year internship.

The MalDent project is funded through the Scottish Government’s Malawi Development Programme 2018-2023 and builds on the strong link and long standing relationship between the Scottish Government, the University of Glasgow and the University of Malawi College of Medicine.

Scottish Government’s Malawi Development Programme 2018-23

Dental training at the University of Malawi College of Medicine is the realisation of one strand of a partnership established in 2005 between the University of Malawi College of Medicine and the University of Glasgow .

Professor Bagg commented: "I am delighted that the strong support we have received from the Scottish Government has allowed us, through close partnership working between our two universities, to reach this milestone in a relatively short time-frame since the first BDS curriculum conference held in September 2017.

"The BDS programme is one critical component of a much broader approach in the MalDent project to enhancing oral health care in Malawi, including work with the Ministry of Health to develop a national oral health policy with prevention of dental disease at its core.

"There are very exciting times ahead."

Scottish Government Minister for International Development, Ben Macpherson MSP, said: “I am really pleased to see the first cohort of dental students begin their studies.

“This is a significant milestone in the development of oral healthcare in Malawi and our aim to train Malawian dentists who are ‘globally competent and locally relevant’. 

“The collaboration between the University of Glasgow and the College of Medicine in Malawi is an outstanding example of partnership working, and projects such as this demonstrate Scotland’s commitment to good global citizenship.”

See Professor Bagg’s MalDent blog

(Also pictured (fourth right) with the students is Dr Joyce Gondwe, the University of Malawi College of Medicine Dean of Students.)