College of Medicine (CoM), a constituent college of the University of Malawi, has launched a five-year bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) degree programme to train dental surgeons in clinical services and oral health needs.
CoM principal Mwapatsa Mipando said the course is in line with national strategic goals of increasing access to high education and boosting the number of health workers in the country.
“In the next five years, the country will have its own locally trained dentists who will help the rural population in oral health.
“Apart from training doctors, the second programme that was supposed to start when the college was established in 1991 was dentistry but we failed to do that,” he said.
Mipando added that the college is also planning to build a special structure for dentists.
Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood chief director Ethel Kapyepye described the degree programme as a milestone.
She said: “We have been sending surgeons outside the country to be trained but now will we be training them on our own. This will have a big impact in our health programme.
“In the national strategic plan, we identified that there was a big gap in oral health because of lack of personnel and this programme will boost the numbers nationwide.”
Kapyepye added that oral health is one big problem in the country.
“This programme will help to stop people from going to traditional healers to seek help when they have a problem with their teeth where, most of the times, they get the wrong treatment,” she said.
Jeremy Bagg, head of Dental School at University of Glasgow, said he helped to develop a curriculum for the programme.
According to Bagg, the University of Glasgow, with grants from the Scottish Government, will continue to associate with the college and the ministry to help in developing health policies that will help to prevent dental diseases. The grant is expected to run for four and half years.