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The School of Dental Medicine. Credit: Max Mester

The Penn School of Dental Medicine recently signed two memorandums of understanding with the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The MOUs will allow the three universities to collaborate on research and begin faculty and student exchanges. 

Mark Wolff, the dean of the Dental School, said in a statement that the MOUs will allow the three institutions to focus on “improv[ing] the health of individuals with limited access to oral healthcare.”

During his visit to Dar es Salaam, Wolff met with officials from the Tanzania Ministry of Health. They discussed how the Dental School can bring its research and training experiences to MUHAS, collaborating with faculty to advance disability and community health, according to a press release. 

The non-profit organization MCW Global, which promotes oral health within disadvantaged communities in Tanzania, helped organize the meetings in Tanzania and South Africa. 

The announcement follows similar engagements by other Penn schools. Last summer, the School of Design signed an MOU with the Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition to propose designs to develop Germantown, Philadelphia.

The Dental School now has a total of 34 international MOUs. Before Witwatersrand and Muhimbili, Penn most recently signed an MOU with Hiroshima University in Hiroshima, Japan in 2015. 

These two agreements are the first following the pandemic. Dr. Marion Bergman, Director of Health Care Projects at MCW Global, said in a statement that the MOUs leave open the possibility of further engagement with other universities across the continent. 

“Connecting Wits, home to Africa’s first dental school and present provider of postgraduate education in all fields for the continent, with MUHAS, which shares MCW Global’s vision of improving access to oral health, UPenn is positioned to energize these two anchor schools to continue to train dental faculty for institutions across Africa,” she said.