For many years now, I have been providing volunteer dentistry in Jamaica, in addition to teaching the local dentists there how to provide proper endodontic care to their patients. Recently a new dental school was constructed at the University ofTechnology, in Jamaica and I was appointed Adjunct Professor of Dentistry, a non paying position. I strongly believe in paying it forward and that doing hands-on charitable work can often be more effective than just writing a check. The School of Oral Health Sciences is a new institution that was established in September 2010 in a response to the overwhelming burden of Oral and Dental Diseases in Jamaica. The Current Dental Workforce is approximately one dentist to seventeen thousand of the population. Despite their best efforts, all previous scholarship to the USA and Canada has not yielded the expected results as many of the new graduates prefer to not to return to Jamaica. In collaboration with Dalhousie University, Health Canada and the Pan American Health Organization / WHO, the University of Technology, Jamaica has worked on a Human Resources in Health module. With the participation of an Economist from the University of Toronto, a mathematical model was created and when it was populated with the appropriate data the results were astonishing. They indicated that in the South East Region of Jamaica some 900 dentists were needed. Using the epidemiological profile of the Country, only 15% of Jamaicans have health insurance and about half of that amount have adequate dental insurance. The Public system therefore provides care for the majority of the Nation. There are only 45 Dental Surgeons in the Public Health to a population of over two million people. Jamaica still has a high prevalence of oral and pharyngeal cancers with a five year survival rate less that 20%. Jamaica is experiencing severe challenges in terms of reducing the overall burden of diseases due to dental conditions. Over the years my colleagues and I have been providing care to countless numbers ofthe Jamaican people. I also have been involved in capacity building and knowledge transfer activities to empower local dentists to do more endodontics. The University of Technology, Jamaica is a very young school with low resources. They have emulated the Canadain module and are working on conformance with the CDAC standards. The University of Technology has also written for help and has been in exploratory talks with the CDAC. It is been a long time coming to provide the Jamaican population proper dental care as oral health is directly related to General Health.
The dental school has approached me about putting together the University's Undergrad Endodontic Program. After giving it some considerable thought, I have decided to move forward and commit my time to this cause. I feel that it is very important. I invite you to follow my journey over the next couple weeks as I share my stories and attempt to make a difference in endodontics amongst the Jamaican population. I hope you will also spread the word and help me bring awareness to what is going on with the local people in one of everyone's top vacation spots.