Experts converge to expand frontiers in dentistry
Professionals from all walks of life converged at the BOOC Conference Hall, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife recently to mark the 16th Annual Faculty of Dentistry Conference and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the College of Health Sciences, OAU, Ile-Ife.
The Conference tagged “Dentistry Without Borders” provided an avenue for scholars, researchers, stakeholders, and students to deliberate on issues affecting dentistry and how to look deeper beyond one’s immediate practices.
In her welcome address, the Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, Prof. Morenike Ukpong, said the Faculty of Dentistry, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife as a trailblazer, was the first and only university in the country to organise a faculty conference and this was over two decades ago under the leadership of the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede when he was the acting Dean of the Faculty in 2001.
Prof. Morenike Ukpong said: “Prof. Ogunbodede learned the strength and values such conferences can bring to health systems development during his stay in South Africa. And he replicated that here in OAU, while his singular efforts have led to the replication of faculty conferences within the university and in other institutions in Nigeria. It is one of the exemplary leadership that can come from the faculty.”
A brand specialist and principal, Alder consulting, Mr Leke Alder, who is the keynote speaker, spoke on “The Awesome Treasures in Dentistry” while highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship in one’s chosen profession.
“Self-esteem is very important in the game of success. Develop self-esteem. Nobody is going to give you self-esteem, you give yourself”.
“That you graduated from the school of dentistry doesn’t mean you automatically acquired a certificate in entrepreneurial competencies. Business is another thing entirely. If you want to succeed in business, you have to learn how to recognise opportunities. Learn how to take initiatives, learn how to network, formulate a vision, develop strategies, define your mission, iterate your corporate objectives, master your branding, and flesh out your values.”
“You must know how to hire. Some people are better off in a partnership than on their own. If you are going to go into business, at least draw a plan. A dental practice is a business where there are so many business plan templates available on the internet. I bet you will find one for a dental practice. You will need to learn how to build an administrative structure, learn to manage your cash flow, and how market your service. The idea is to reduce the possibility of failure.”
Speaking on the cultural aspect, Prof. Jacob Olupona, who is a Professor of African Religious Tradition and American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, USA; opined that the unemployment rate in Nigeria is worrisome.
“We have a crisis in Nigeria, we have people carrying certificates up all around. They have no job to do. It is not their fault, it is the systems that have failed them. So, those of us who are responsible for this learning process must begin to think about how best we can help those students.
“The kind of social revolution we need is not coups or guns but cultural revolution, so that we begin to know when people are deceiving us and telling us stories and lies,” he said.
Speaking from the same perspective, Prof. of Archaology, Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan, frowned at the lack of record keeping of teeth that has been removed by dentists in Nigeria so as to proffer solutions to problems associated with teeth.
“No record keeping on teeth that have been removed by dentists in the past generations to see the nutritional changes. Dentists must work with historians; doing this will help to generate data for action plans.”
The chief host, who is also the Vice Chancellor of OAU, Ile-Ife, Prof. Adebayo Simeon Banure, applauded the organisers for taking the bull by the horn.
The conference is to proffer solutions with the sole purpose of achieving positive landmarks. This conference opens up new frontiers, especially in the area of research.
Speaking on the second day of the Conference, Prof. Onikepe Folarin of the Redeemers University, Osun State, allayed the fears of those having cancers and impressed them not to panic again because there are better ways of handling such cases. She also urged the government to make policies that will help researchers in their works.
“We have enough medical facilities to treat those suffering from it. We have the facilities, We have the capabilities to do all the tests they go abroad for in Nigeria.”
A cultural troupe was there to provide entertainment and thrilled the participants with dance, dance drama, monologue, miming, and singing.
The Conference started with six pre-conferences organised by the Dean’s office and the five departments. Collectively, there were nine national and international resource persons and 690 participants from multiple locations in and outside the country that attended the conference.
Basking in the euphoria of organising an eventful conference, Prof. Morenike Ukpong, the Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, OAU, Ile-Ife, who doubles as the host, looks forward to a more educative outing that will impact positively on the lives of both students and other stakeholders.
“There is no doubt that the conference has given room for interaction that will help the Faculty of Dentistry and students in building their academic capacity. I need to thank everyone for their brilliant contributions. Our faculty is noted for excellence and this will linger on for many years to come.”