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Thinking globally

ADA Foundation takes role in Chicago session on global health care

February 04, 2019

By David Burger

Photo of Dr. Seymour with her daughter and two other children in Costa Rica
Humanitarian: Dr. Brittany Seymour, right, poses with, from left, Maxima, Caroline and Dr. Seymour's daughter TaylorLayne in Costa Rica. She was in the country to teach a course about the social determinants of health and strengthening partnerships with indigenous communities for improving access to care.
The ADA Foundation is inviting all dentists to a Chicago session March 7 that is part of what is billed as the world's leading academic global health conference. It is designed to address the capacity of humanitarian missions around the world to advance access to care.

The session will convene the day before the Consortium of Universities for Global Health's 10th annual conference at the Chicago Hilton from March 8-10.

"The ADA Foundation is proud to be working collaboratively with global health-minded organizations to share information about sustainable learning and practice experiences for health care providers including dental professionals," said Dr. William Calnon, ADA Foundation president. "These experiences not only help communities in need with access to care but also offer a great deal to the providers."

"The overall aim of the session is working toward best practices for more ethical and sustainable practices in global health care and humanitarian service delivery through training and education, in order to reduce dependency on volunteers and donations and build capacity locally in the communities long-term," said one of the speakers, Dr. Brittany Seymour, assistant professor at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in the oral health policy and epidemiology department and the Office of Global and Community Health. Harvard is sponsoring the conference.

One of the speakers is endodontist Dr. Karl Woodmansey, who will represent the ADA Foundation. A member of ADA Foundation's International Programs Committee, Dr. Woodmansey has volunteered with Health Volunteers Overseas in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2012 and Managua, Nicaragua, in 2013. He is scheduled to travel to the HVO Oral Health program site in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, later this year to provide education and training to faculty and students at Faculté d'Odontologie.

At the session, he will discuss his experiences and how he and others can build a pathway for transformative global exchange opportunities, Dr. Seymour said.

The session, titled An Education Journey: From Competency to Classroom to Community, has four objectives:

  • Describe the current landscape, including strengths and weaknesses, of various global community engagement models by health care practitioners and trainees.
  • Apply a phased approach for competency-based global health curriculum development.
  • Consider strategies for identifying partners for integrated global health teaching, learning and practice.
  • Assess feasibility obstacles and solutions for developing ethical and sustainable global health learning and practice experiences for health care providers through competency-based programs.

Dr. Seymour noted, "I and the others will also be discussing various training models that allow for skills transfer and local capacity building in communities where health professionals and students volunteer. For example, I will discuss how we supported the launch of the first dental school in Rwanda and our new global health experiential learning curriculum at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine."

She said the one-day session will build on similar themes touched upon at the International Volunteer Dental Project Workshop hosted by the ADA Foundation in May 2018.   

Cohosts of the March conference include the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago and Cayetano Heredia University in Peru.

Register for the March 7 session at