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HVO seeks volunteers for new program in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua—Health Volunteers Overseas has established a new oral health education program in Managua at the Universidad Catolica, or UNICA, as part of the ADA/HVO Oral Health Initiative.

The private university was founded in 1992 and launched a dental program three years ago. It will graduate its first class of dental professionals in 2012.

The largest country in Central America, only an estimated 30 percent of Nicaragua’s 6 million people have access to dental care.

HVO volunteers will support and assist the faculty in establishing specialty training programs.

“The school has expressed a strong desire to create specialty training programs in the future and would like to have volunteers teach in all areas of dentistry and in particular the specialty fields, especially in endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, implant dentistry and pediatrics,” said Dr. Marshall Gallant, chief of dental services at the Orlando VA Medical Center and HVO Nicaragua oral health education program director. “Another area of interest would be in public health. They would like to incorporate both didactic and clinical instruction. Volunteers would teach dental students, faculty and other dentists in the community.”

Volunteers would serve one- to two-week assignments. Translation will be provided but any knowledge of Spanish will be beneficial. The university will facilitate housing, transportation and any other assistance that a volunteer may need, he added.

“Nicaragua is a beautiful and safe country with many sites to visit,” said Dr. Gallant. “It will provide volunteers with a very rewarding experience.”

Health Volunteers Overseas, based in Washington, D.C., is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving the availability and quality of health care in developing countries through the training and education of local health care providers. HVO volunteers provide education, mentoring and professional development opportunities to health care providers in more than 80 programs in 25 countries around the world.

The American Dental Association and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons sponsor the HVO Oral Health Initiative. For more information about the ADA/HVO Oral Health Initiative and/or to learn about volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Division of Global Affairs, Ext. 2726.