Dental Students Receive First ADA Award for Outreach to Underserved Populations Outside U.S.
Dental services provided under Madagascar Ankizy Fund initiative recognized
STONY BROOK, NY, November 6, 2013 - The Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine’s student volunteer Madagascar Outreach Project is the first recipient of the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation’s Thomas J. Zwemer Award, which recognizes outstanding dental student programs serving underserved populations outside the United States. The project is part of the Madagascar Ankizy Fund, a non-profit organization administered through the Stony Brook Foundation that builds schools and provides temporary healthcare clinics to children living in remote areas.
Since 2005 Stony Brook dental students and faculty have traveled to Madagascar to support efforts to improve the oral health of underserved communities by providing dental treatment and nutritional counseling. The ADA Foundation award heralds the work of a team of 11 dental students who traveled to Madagascar in 2012 and provided access to care to hundreds of individuals living in remote villages.
According to a letter sent by ADA Foundation President David A. Whiston, DDS, to the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, the ADA Foundation selected the team from Stony Brook for the “students’ devoted efforts to help the people of Madagascar…Of particular note are the pro bono dental services your dental students provide and the professionalism of your program including its continuity, strong educational component, clearly defined goals, and integration with related international research organization.”
“The Stony Brook students who have accompanied faculty on dental missions to Madagascar have done a remarkable job in improving the lives and health of so many people in the country, and they are deserving of this national recognition,” said Ray C. Williams, DMD, Dean of Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine.
“There is a dire oral healthcare situation in rural Madagascar; for every 100,000 people the country has just two dentists and these dentists perform their work only in urban areas,” said David Krause, PhD, Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University, founder of the Madagascar Ankizy Fund, and a human gross anatomy instructor in the School of Medicine. “Their work and commitment is inspiring, and each mission has become more advanced to provide higher quality care to more and more patients.”
Regarding the dental students accomplishments in Madagascar, Dr. Krause summarized that “the students have provided dental care to thousands in remote villages, educated children and families on oral health hygiene, and gathered useful data for their own research projects.”
“I can speak for our student participants when I say the Madagascar dental mission was truly an extraordinary life-changing experience for us in our professional and personal lives,” said Jennifer Lonnen, a third year dental student who inspired her fellow students to apply for the inaugural ADA award. “The Malagasy people we tend to are extremely grateful and welcoming despite living in constant poverty, disease and inaccessibility to health care.”
Under faculty supervision, the dental student team treated approximately 500 patients and performed more than 2,200 procedures, including fluoride treatments, extractions, and tooth restorations. They provided specific education about diet and foods to avoid in order to obtain better dental health and overall body health. The team also distributed supplies of children’s vitamins in schools located in many remote areas of Madagascar.
The Zwemer Award includes $5,000 to the Stony Brook University Foundation, which, according to the award guidelines, will be “expressly used to continue to enhance student education and outreach to underserved populations.”
Caption: The team of Stony Brook dental students honored with the ADA Foundation’s first Thomas J. Zwemer Award is pictured in 2012 in Madagascar with Stony Brook Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, and Ellen Li, MD, PhD (center). Also pictured: David Krause, PhD, founder of the Madagascar Ankizy Fund (upper left); Laurence Wynn, DDS, student advisor (next to Dr. Li); student leader Jennifer Lonnen (behind President Stanley), and one of the many children in Madagascar treated by the team.