Serendipity is the best word to describe my emotion at hearing about a relatively new dental association that by nature is close to my heart.
The African and Caribbean Dental Association (ACAD-UK) started in December 2012 by two dentists and a practice manager, and is a fast-growing energy-filled association for dental professionals from or of descent from Africa and the Caribbean.
The association is still young but it still managed to attract 150 delegates and representatives from around the world to attend the first annual charity gala dinner of the association in London late last year.
Now an official charity in the UK, the ACAD-UK was formed in order to promote better oral health awareness among ethnic minority groups in the UK and African and Caribbean communities abroad, and the need for peer review and networking among dental professionals of African and Caribbean origin. Executives of the association are:
- Chairman Dr Julius Babayemi (pictured far right)
- Deputy chair Dr Olurotimi Adesanya (pictured far left)
- Treasurer Dr Gbemi Adeoti (pictured centre).
The association is made up of dentists and members of the profession from African and Caribbean origin that work in the UK: so they do not have to have been born or have studied in the UK.
Dr Adesanya said: ‘The association aims to provide a network forum for peer review for professional development and to help personal leadership development. Also we want the association to provide a forum of personal resource.’ He added: ‘We are not over-formal, but we want to learn and share from each other.’ The association is also negotiating with groups and companies to provide discounts to members as a further benefit.
Enriching our community
‘But what are we giving back?’ asked Dr Adesanya, who is acutely aware that the association must be of use to the community too, and so a charitable agenda was written for the ACAD-UK. The association is now mandated to be heavily involved in charitable activities, including the following:
- Promote, preserve and protect oral health for ethnic minorities
- Mentoring group for young people – increasing their skill and capacity to go into the community and make a difference.
Dr Adeoti explained the other side of the mentoring system clearly, saying: ‘Members can learn from other members who have more experience in dentistry.’
Three membership cohorts
Dr Babayemi explained that three different cohorts have established themselves within the association membership. There are newly qualified dentists, established practitioners and those preparing for retirement. These groups have developed naturally. The association identified this early and has started to help all three cohorts transition from one stage to another, providing support, mentoring and experience.
Valuable resources – some members benefit
The association is a valuable resource of information and experience for dental professionals coming to the UK.
The ACAD-UK is also providing a network for African and Caribbean dental professionals finding jobs and looking for staff. This is ideal for practitioners who often work in isolation, providing support and like-minded individuals facing the same challenges, goals and interests. This is a ‘unique’ selling factor for the association.
Another special offering is the CPD (continuous professional development) events that the association runs from time to time.
Simon Gambold, vice president of Henry Schein UK, said that he will working with the association in the creation of an educational programme for members of African and Caribbean ancestry and will help communicate oral health messages in minority communities.
Dr Adesanya said: ‘The association is passionate about running soft courses on public speaking, communication skills, leadership, and management. We owe a duty to offer this to every member. So our members can be useful to their community.’
Recent events included a lunchtime free CPD meeting at Croydon University Teaching Hospital on basic periodontology in general dental practice – talking about when to refer, delivered by Dr Mitchelle Mbaeri JP. On the same programme was Mr Richard Westbrook who spoke about GC composites and the right clinical application for the best aesthetics. Attendees were issued CPD certificates on the day.
Looking for partners
The association’s chairman, Dr Julius Babayemi pointed out that ACAD-UK would like to partner with statutory, professional and voluntary organisations and to encourage its members to make use of their cultural knowledge in promoting better health awareness.
Looking for members
The African and Caribbean Dental Association UK is a welcomed fresh and new addition to the UK list of associations. The leaders are dynamic, enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with. Obviously this association is close to my heart, but I say without bias that with the energy, effort and focus of the executives, this association will do great things in the UK and around the world.
To join the association, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website www.acda-uk.org or call 0845 050 9687.