In Peru, a country with only one dental professional per 9,000 people and a 95 percent prevalence of dental cavities and periodontal diseases, the College of Dental Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University is reaching across international borders to help improve the standard of dental care in the region.
In the city of Cusco, officials from GHSU will join Peruvian officials March 31 to celebrate the official opening of a dental clinic.
“I often speak of building bridges, bridges that will ensure the strength, relevance and excellence of the Georgia Health Sciences enterprise and of the many communities we serve,” said GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, who will attend the ceremony with his son, Jonathon. “This bridge with Cusco is one of our farthest-reaching.”
The collaboration between the university and the local health care community began in 2006 when Dr. Daron Ferris, Professor of Family Medicine at GHSU’s Medical College of Georgia, opened CerviCusco, a medical clinic to help treat and prevent cervical cancer in Peruvian women.
The country’s pressing need for improved oral health care led to the opening last fall of a state-of-the-art dental clinic on the building’s third floor. Furnished with donated equipment and supplies, the clinic hosts skilled dentists and students from the United States and other countries who consult with the Peruvian staff to expand oral health care.
“The inclusion of a dental clinic within CerviCusco represents the culmination of a process that will allow all GHSU students to participate in global health patient care, education and research,” Ferris said. “This comprehensive program positions GHSU as an innovative leader in global health education.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to work side by side with the talented, dedicated community dentists in Cusco to provide high-quality advanced services to Peruvians in need,” said GSHU College of Dental Medicine Dean Connie Drisko, who will also attend the grand opening.
Over 100 people are expected at the ceremony, including the clinic’s dental director, Dr. Jessica Rivera, and her staff; several GHSU dental and nursing faculty and students; local medical, dental and university officials; and members of La Fuente, a group of medical and dental professionals with ties to GHSU and Augusta who serve the needy through healthcare.