On November 4th Lauren Gerkowicz, Mary Keezel, Kevin Campbell, Hannah Cook and I attended a talk by Dr. Paul Farmer at Boston University. For those that don’t know, Dr. Paul Farmer is considered by many to be one of the foremost experts on public health. He has a Medical Degree and a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University; and is trained in the fields of infectious diseases and internal medicine. He is one of the founders of Partners in Health, has numerous accolades, and has been instrumental in bringing quality healthcare to nations around the globe. His talk was titled “ The Current Status of Global Health.”
During this talk his main focus was on the Ebola outbreak and the role him and his organization played in Sierra Leone. Throughout his talk he highlighted the importance of providing quality healthcare to developing nations. He pressed upon everyone in the audience that providing access to care is not only morally justified, but in many instances economically justified as well. His highlighting of the Ebola outbreak was gut wrenching. He recounted the countless lives lost and the lives of those who he was close too. He told us about the heroic sacrifice made by medical professionals in certain areas who choose to stay and help even though they knew they would most likely die providing care. He went into depth regarding the challenges regarding an outbreak such as Ebola in a nation that had a lack of infrastructure. He also touched upon the role Partners in Health has had in providing healthcare and infrastructure in Haiti and in other developing nations.
It is hard to truly describe the inspiration and awe that was circulating the room of over 500 people that afternoon. Hearing the challenges, triumphs, and the progress that had been facilitated and brought about by Dr. Farmer and the countless others involved in the organization; left us all feeling more empowered about the potential impact we can have on the world. As dental students sometimes it is easy to forget that we can play an important role in promoting public health and access to care not only in our own communities, but also around the world. The impact that dental diseases have on the world is astounding. Working closely with Dr. Morgan on the 15th floor I have been able to understand the need for the dental profession to be more aware of the impact we can have on the world. A 2015 systematic review published by the Journal of Dental Research listed untreated dental caries as the number one most prevalent disease in the world in adults and number ten in children. Another study from the same journal found that dental caries resulted in 144 billion dollars of economic productivity lost yearly. 
During the Q&A session I was able to ask Dr. Farmer a question regarding dental diseases and their impact around the globe. He then directed me to another person who could better answer my questions, and I cannot tell you the pride I felt when his reference was in fact TUSDM Alumni, Nicholas Gordon. Nicholas graduated from Tufts with a DMD, and is now a public health resident at Boston University. It was awesome to realize that there is progress being made in regards to Global Dental Health and that Tufts is helping in this endeavor. After Dr. Famers talk we all left confident in what we can do individually and as a profession to alleviate the unnecessary suffering attributed to dental diseases around the globe.
– Robert Geary, D18
“My name is Krysten Herrero but most people call me Kiki. I am a second year dental student at Tufts University. Prior to starting dental school, I knew I wanted to be a part of something where I could give back to an underserved population that otherwise would not have access to health care. I found out about an organization called Mindo Futures Medical Mission, which travels to Mindo, Ecuador, once a year to provide medical services to the people of the town and the surrounding areas. Choosing to become a part of this organization changed my life. On my first mission, I wasn’t sure what to expect and as a pre-dental student I was assigned to assist one of the dentist’s in the clinic. While assisting I learned about many things, which really gave me an edge in the classroom and pre-clinical settings. I was also able to experience first-hand what it truly means to be a dentist: changing lives one person at a time by giving them a new front tooth or by easing a pain that they have had for years by doing a filling or an extraction. It was in Ecuador where I was able to validate my calling to become a dentist. It has been 4 years since I first went on this trip and I have been back each year since. I have established relationships with the people of the town and I soon hope to be able to call them my patients. This past summer I went on my 4th trip and as a current dental student, the dentists I have been working under for the past few years trusted me to do some of the less invasive procedures such as exams and prophylaxis treatments. By doing so, I have gained confidence in my abilities to treat people and also learned some of the bed side manner that can only be learned by experience. I am looking forward to returning to Ecuador and being able to put in to practice all of the skills and knowledge I have acquired at Tufts and helping those people who unknowingly have changed my life.”
– Krysten Herrero, D18
On April 25th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. With aftershocks of 6.5 magnitude having continued since, the death toll nears 5,000 and continues to rise. A little of your support can go a long way in the immediate relief and long-term recovery of this incredible country. As a Tufts community, let us commit to standing with Nepal as the country responds and recovers.
Here is how together, we can do exactly that!
- Donate via Venmo to “SAPAC Tufts,” which is currently sending funds to GlobalGiving.
- On Facebook, like the page “Tufts Stands with Nepal” to learn more about and get involved in organizing and mobilizing efforts on Tufts campus.
To stay in the loop about , search #NepalQuakeRelief
Stephie Castera (D16) opens a library in Haiti – April 2015
“It has always been a dream of mine to start a project in Haiti that could have a lasting impact on the community. A couple of years ago I thought of opening a library/education center in a rural area of Haiti and started to collect books. I believe that a library has the ability to increase the literacy rate, open people’s minds, broaden their perspective on life, and bring new opportunities to a community. In early 2015 a new school opened in the rural area of Furcy and I was able to obtain a designated space in the school for the library. In April of this year, I embarked on a ten day trip to set up the library and open it to the public. The library was able to open its doors with 459 books in its collection and has continued to receive book donations since. It has been very well received by the community and averages 30 users a day. In addition, classes and social events are organized regularly at the library in order to keep people’s interests and provide different means of gaining knowledge. I hope this project can continue to thrive and hope to one day see this community benefit from it and use it as a tool to climb out of poverty.”
– Stephie Castera (D16)
AAPD donates to Operation Smile – March 2015
During the week of Saint Patrick’s Day, the Tufts Student American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) held a fundraiser selling Tufts Mason jars in order to raise money for Operation Smile. Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries. One surgery costs $245. The AAPD student club was able to donate $310 to Operation Smile as a result of their fundraiser. Thank you to everyone who purchased a Mason Jar and made this donation possible.
“Four years ago I had the desire to give back to a rural community in Haiti called Furcy and decided to host a Christmas party for the children of the area. I was happily surprised by the amount of support received for this project and was able to provide 240 children with a memorable Christmas on the first year. In the following years, I continued to receive vast support and the party started to grow in size and scope. On December 23rd, 2014, we organized the fourth annual Christmas party for 350 children of Furcy. During the party, we have been able to provide each child with shoes, warm clothes and school supplies, as well as a toy from Santa Claus. Each child is fed during the party and gets to enjoy some fun activities (music, games, arts and crafts etc). In addition, given my career path in dentistry, I strongly believe in the importance of oral hygiene on the overall well being of an individual and hope to promote oral health in the community of Furcy. As such, we have been providing the children with oral hygiene instructions and have distributed kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss.
In the summer of 2014 four TUSDM students (Lalita Nekanti D15, Zarah Ali D15, Alice Ko D15, Stephie Castera D16) embarked on a 3-week dental service trip to Zambia with Dr. John Morgan from the public health department.
Since 2006 Zambian/U.S. interdisciplinary health teams have addressed the four components of primary oral health promotion as recommended by the World Health Organization in the Muchila Project in rural Zambia. These include oral health education, emergency care for infection and pain, fluoride exposure and atraumatic restorative treatment (ART). Under supervision of U.S. and Zambian faculty, Tufts School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) dental students work with Options for Children in Zambia, the Muchila Rural Health Center and the Ministry of Health in Zambia to integrate oral health into a comprehensive health care model. A key component of this project has been the construction of a maternal child health center complete with a dental room which was inaugurated during their trip in August.
In addition, the TUSDM students and faculty were able to provide dental care to orphans at the Kasisi Children’s Home, Zambia’s largest orphanage. In their spare time, students were able to visit Zambia’s beautiful Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, and go on one of Zambia’s many safaris.
Interested in reading more about Zambia? Read Lalita Nekkanti’s (D15) Reflection here!
Have you participated on a global service learning activity that isn’t already up on Dental Central? We’d love to hear your story! Please email Cindy Park (D20) for more info.