One element of our successful MalDent grant application to the Scottish Government was to appoint a PhD student to collaborate with us on the work stream to develop a model programme for prevention of dental disease in children that would be applicable in Malawi. Subsequently, this element of the project has received a major boost with additional funding of $75,000 from the Borrow Foundation.
The PhD studentship was advertised in 2019 and interviews for the short-listed candidates took place by Zoom on 19th December 2019. Professor Lorna Macpherson and I took part from Glasgow and the process was chaired by the Dean for Postgraduate Studies at the College of Medicine, Dr Fanuel Lampiao.
Following the interviews, we identified Ronald Manjomo as the preferred candidate, and he was duly recommended to the Vice-Chancellor for approval .
We are very excited about Ronald’s appointment, as his skills and experience fit very well with the work that is required for this oral health improvement project. Ronald graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College in 2010. He majored in sociology, economics and psychology, and completed a dissertation entitled ‘Assessing the socio-economic impacts of a resettlement scheme on a local community in Machinga District’ as part of his course-work. From 2012 he worked for the Baobab Health Trust and in 2018 completed his Master of Public Health degree at the University of Malawi College of Medicine. His MPH project was entitled ‘Assessing the integrated management of non communicable diseases at Area 25 Urban Health Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi: experience from a human resources limited setting’.
Lorna Macpherson and I were able to meet Ronald in person when we visited Lilongwe in February this year for the National Oral Health Policy Workshop. We were joined by James Mchenga, the Academic Head of Dentistry at the College of Medicine, and enjoyed a very productive discussion.
The various administrative procedures that have been necessary for Ronald to take up his studentship have now been completed and on Monday 13th July we held the first Zoom meeting with Ronald and his supervisory team. Professor Ken Maleta, who is Professor of Public Health at the College of Medicine School of Public Health & Family Medicine, is the Lead Supervisor in Malawi and Professor Lorna Macpherson will co-supervise from the Community Oral Health Research Group at Glasgow Dental School. Dr James Mchenga will provide the academic link to Dentistry within the Faculty of Medicine. Other academic colleagues will link into the project as it develops.
Many thanks are due to the Scottish Government and to the Borrow Foundation for the funding that supports the studentship to which Ronald has been appointed. The work to develop a dental caries prevention programme for children in Malawi is a crucial strand of the MalDent Project. We look forward to working closely with Ronald and with the other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health & Population and WHO Africa, in this project to develop a sustainable prevention model based upon the principles of Scotland’s successful Childsmile programme.