My name is Jennifer N. Ricaldi-Camahuali, faculty in the Department of Social Dentistry at Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University (UPCH) in Peru. I have a specialty in Pediatric Dentistry and training in Clinical Epidemiology, and five years ago I came to Seattle and received a Master of Public Health in Global Health at the University of Washington (UW).
In the last ten years as faculty in the department of Social Dentistry, I shared my experiences and knowledge gathered from training at UPCH (Peru), an internship at the Bebé-Clínica (Brazil), and a novel perspective about Global health learned at UW. My goals are to motivate, train and teach dental students about Public Health and Global Health, and bring awareness of the importance and necessity of improving oral health of the most vulnerable population.
My experience as a trainer in Colombia and coordinator in Peru of a Pan-American Health Organization project (SOFAR, Salud Oral Factores de Riesgo) increased my understanding of the necessity to integrate oral health within general health.
It was in May 2014 when I participated in the First Latin American Workshop on Clinical Research Methods in Oral Health, organized by UW in Peru, where I was motivated by Dr. Jorge Luis Castillo and Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario. Both, alumni, and faculty members from UPCH, encouraged me to achieve oral health research goals abroad. During this training experience, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Tim DeRouen, who was director of the Center for Global Oral Health, and he became a mentor. His vision in expanding global oral health research was inspiring. After coming to Seattle in 2016 for the 25th Summer Institute in Clinical Dental Research Methods, I was accepted into the program of Master of Public Health in Global Health at UW in 2018.
During my first year as a student in the MPH program in Global Health, I volunteered in the Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, collaborating in the organization of the symposium “Inter-professional Collaboration in Healthcare: Adding the Oral Health Component to Successful Projects Worldwide,” and co-coordinating the second collection of data in the oral health project in the Peruvian Amazon- InterACTION Labs Project in Claverito (Iquitos). These opportunities further contributed to my training, learning closely from the experience of experts and peers in the oral health area.
Since my last year during the MPH program when the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, my interest in health policies, implementation science, and science communication areas increased, adding some additional steps to my journey. Currently, these subjects are key factors to ensure the protection and access to health care and conditions to reduce the impact of oral diseases during and after the pandemic.
Seems like this journey has not ended but has allowed me to learn from experiences from all around the world. I have received knowledge and guidance in understanding the importance of strengthening oral health services, especially in the most vulnerable populations. I’m convinced that the improvement in communication and collaborative work will promote equal and quality oral health care worldwide.