New curriculum in dentistry for Tanzania: Competency-based education for patient and population health (2008–2011)
From 2008 to 2011, the School of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania revised and then initiated implementation of a curriculum to improve the educational process for, and competence of, its graduates. As an increasing body of research demonstrates the detrimental effects of oral diseases on health and the interrelationships between oral and systemic diseases (including HIV and diabetes), the importance of dentistry education grows. We describe the population oral health problems in Tanzania, the need to enhance the dental workforce, and the process of curricular reform to meet these needs. This reform included transition to a competency-based curriculum featuring teaching methods that will enhance the effectiveness of the education and performance of graduates in traditional and new roles. We conclude with lessons for Tanzania and for health professions educational institutions elsewhere, as well as for public health-care planners concerned about linking health professions education to improving population health in resource-poor countries.