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Penn Dental Medicine: Now a W.H.O. Center

The School of Dental Medicine recently received official designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Oral Infectious Diseases: Education, Research and Care.
The designation makes Penns one of 35 collaborating centers for oral health and dental education worldwide, and the only one with a specific focus on problems associated with oral infectious diseases. The Center is housed in the Schools Office of International Relations, under the direction of Dr. Peter Berthold, Associate Dean of International Relations, with Assistant Dean Naty Lopez serving as co-director.

"The work of the center is being driven in part by recognition of the need to bring to the forefront of the health care agenda the importance of oral health in overall care delivery," said Dr. Berthold.

To this end, the center will:

  • develop and implement research in the prevention, detection, and care of infectious diseases that are manifested in the oral cavity that may also have systemic implications;
  • work to strengthen the role of oral health and other health care professionals and auxiliary workers in the prevention, detection, and care of oral infectious diseases; and
  • assist in the development of international guidelines and standards of oral health care of in-dividuals with infectious diseases, as well as guidelines and standards aimed at infection control.

One of the major activities will be providing strategic assistance in advancing the work of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). According to Dr. Berthold, possible elements of partnership include regional conferences on the prevention of HIV/AIDS in cooperation with dental schools and national AIDS programs; working toward inclusion of HIV/AIDS in curricula of dental schools in the region; serving as a resource for evaluation of dental school curricula; assisting in development of universal precautions appropriate for the dental community and the region; and offering human resource development appropriate to the needs and direction of the new oral health agenda in the region, specifically in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, in providing oral care of individuals with HIV disease, and in HIV-related research.
The Schools Dean Raymond Fonseca calls this distinction "a reflection of the collective achievements of the Schools faculty and the Office of International Relations, whose activities have already resulted in noteworthy contributions to international oral health care education and delivery." As a WHO center, he said, the School will be able to maximize the impact of the work that is already being done by both the faculty and OIR.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, October 21, 1997, Volume 44, No. 9