It was smiles all round recently as the latest group of students who have been selected to join the Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme at the University of Malawi College of Medicine were welcomed onto their Foundation Course, prior to entering BDS 1 in 2022. In due course they will form the third cohort of students to enter the new programme. Their induction was led by Dr James Mchenga, who is the academic head of the course and Dr Peter Chimimba, who is the overall lead in Malawi for the Scottish Government-funded MalDent Project.
The students wore masks and followed the social distancing rules as they listened attentively to James and Peter.
It seems to me only a short while ago that my University of Glasgow colleague, Dr Petrina Sweeney, and I were in this same lecture theatre in August 2019, participating in the induction event for the very first cohort of dental students. I am impatient for the easing of travel restrictions when I will once again be able to return to Malawi and interact directly with the students and my College of Medicine colleagues!
At that initial induction event in 2019, James had only just joined the College of Medicine. He is now well established in his role as Head of the BDS course and working hard to provide an excellent experience for the students and to develop the careers of the four junior members of staff who have been appointed as Assistant Lecturers.
It is wonderful to see this photograph of James and Peter with a further group of enthusiastic young people who are destined to join the team of dental professionals on the journey towards ‘Oral Health for All‘ in Malawi.
The final words should be left to Peter and James as they reflect on the progress to date.
“Despite the Covid restrictions, the induction for our BDS ‘Foundation’ students went very well. We pretty much followed the induction we had 2 years ago when you and Petrina were here. I hope that this will be the standard going forward. It was delightful to see 23 students including 9 female, young and enthusiastic and eager to learn. This augers well for Dentistry in Malawi. We crossed yet another historic milestone on this journey. With this third cohort of Dental Students we now have more dental students than registered dentists in Malawi. I feel very proud to be part of this process. Many thanks to the Maldent Project, to you Jeremy and the Glasgow University Dental School and the Scottish Government for all the support given to us and COM. I look forward to many more years of collaboration with you.“
“It was double joy and excitement through and through when we met the largest group of dental students at the College of Medicine yet! And this happened on the day that the third Assistant Lecturer, Dr Don Chiwaya, landed in Johannesburg to commence his post graduate studies in Dentistry at the University of the Witwatersrand, following Dr. Tasneem Chikwatu and Dr Miriam Chipinga who had left 2 weeks earlier. On the same day Dr Nathan Lungu submitted his study visa application at the South African embassy in Lilongwe and we are hoping that he, too, will join his colleagues in the next week or so. So, the dream is becoming a reality and that is exciting.