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Nepal dental school seeking instructors for new Health Volunteers Overseas project

March 16, 2015

By Jean Williams

Photo of dentists in Nepal
Teammates: Dr. Dashrath Kafle, left, and Dr. Hollander stand overlooking the dental school at Dhulikhel Hospital. Dr. Kafle is a professor at the school and the HVO project's local contact.
Washington — A dental education project in Dhulikhel, Nepal, seeks volunteers to teach this fall under the auspices of Health Volunteers Overseas, Dhulikhel Dental School and Kathmandu University School of Medicine.

"They want to improve the dental education that they provide the students," said Dr. Brian Hollander, project director. "Our volunteers will work with both the students and the faculty in helping them improve their knowledge and teaching techniques. Their goal is to produce excellent dentists. It's a pretty interesting partnership. HVO just launched the project last month. We've already had quite a bit of interest. I'm very excited about this program."

The first volunteer is going to Nepal in April. The project needs volunteers for placement between September and mid-November.

Infection control and hygiene; training for dental assistants and hygienists; dental laboratory techniques; finishing orthodontic cases to American Board of Orthodontics standards; oral pathology and oral medicine are among the requested focus areas for volunteers. Academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology has also been requested.
 
The program needs academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology and training in four-handed dentistry for the dental nurses and assistants.

Volunteers must be fully trained general dentists, specialists and/or board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons who hold a current license to practice. Assignments are for a minimum of two weeks.

photo of mountains in Nepal
Beautiful terrain: Dr. Hollander's favorite mountain in Nepal is Ama Dablam, pictured here.
"The value of this school is that most of the dentists in Nepal are concentrated in main cities, like Kathmandu and Pokhara," Dr. Hollander said. "I think their goal is to get more dentists in the rural areas and to be able to treat the rural population."

Nepal is a developing country in south Asia bordered by India to the east, west and south and China to the north. Until 2008, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom. Currently, it is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and the world's youngest republic.

According to program materials, "In 2010, Nepal ranked 139th in average life expectancy with the average Nepalese life expectancy being 65.8 years. In Nepal, both government and private sectors provide health care services. Due to insufficient government funding, trained manpower, and health education, basic health care facilities are not readily available in rural areas."

Nepal holds a place in Dr. Hollander's heart, and he keeps in touch with friends he met while living there. "I have a particular affinity because I practiced dentistry in Kathmandu, Nepal, for 29 years," he said. "My wife and I lived in Nepal and raised our two children. About five years ago, I moved to Alaska, but I still keep close contact with Nepal."

Knowing the health care challenges in the country, Dr. Hollander sought a way to help improve the status quo in the realm of dentistry. "I went to Nepal in February 2014," he said. "I was looking for a dental school that could partner with Health Volunteers Overseas, and I went to a local dental supply dealer there who knows all the dentists in Nepal. I asked him what's the best dental school in Nepal, and he named two or three. He mentioned Dhulikhel Dental School."

photo of dental clinic in Nepal
Grand tour: Dr. Ram Shrestha, founder of Dhulikhel hospital and dental school, shows off the school's dental clinic.
Dr. Hollander knew of Dhulikhel Hospital at that point, but not the dental school. So he called his old friend, Dr. Ram Shrestha, who helped found the hospital and later the dental school, after Dr. Hollander had moved to Alaska.

"I called him. He said, 'Come on out.' My wife and I went out for a day with him and assistant dental professor Dr. Dashrath Kafle to look at the  dental school. I was just blown away by what they had done. They built a whole new school and were already in their third cohort of students."

As project director, Dr. Hollander plans to spend time with his boots on the ground in Nepal for the program. "It was my home for 30 years, and we have an amazing community of friends there," he said. "I go back and forth. I will probably go every couple of years to check on the project and help with the school."

Health Volunteers Overseas is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to improve global health through the education of local health care providers. The organization has designed and implemented clinical and didactic education programs in child health, primary care, trauma and rehabilitation, essential surgical care, oral health, blood disorders and cancer, infectious disease, nursing education and wound management in more than 25 resource-poor countries.

HVO volunteers train, mentor and provide critical professional support to health care providers who care for the neediest populations in the most difficult of circumstances. For more information, visit hvousa.org. The ADA Foundation supports the Oral Health Programs of HVO. For additional international volunteer opportunities visit the ADAF International Volunteer Web page or call the ADA Foundation at ext. 2727.