Doctor Cynthia NDUWAYO is a dental medicine graduate. She is currently working at Kira Hospital as a Dental surgeon. In an effort to contribute to the oral health awareness in Burundi, she has created “BuDental Mission Organization” whose main goal is to spread and improve oral health throughout Burundi. She was recently visiting schools to teach about the importance of oral health and proper oral hygiene practices. Doctor Cynthia has received us in her office at Kira Hospital.
Akeza.net: Who is Doctor Cynthia NDUWAYO? What’s her story?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: My name is Cynthia NDUWAYO. I am a doctor of dental medicine. I work at Kira Hospital. When I was 2 or 3 years old, we moved to Nigeria then came back to Burundi for a few years. In Nigeria, I did first step school. When we came back to Burundi, I joined “Ecole Primaire de Gikungu where I did from grade 1 to grade 4.
We then moved to Kenya. I studied from 5th grade to 8th grade at Maxwel Adventist Preparatory School. In Kenya, I had to learn with English-Swahili in order to pass the national exam KCPE. In high school, I was placed in an American System school called Maxwell Adventist Academy. It is a school where most missionary kids attended and here I did my 9th to 12th grade and graduated.
I left Nairobi to attend the Adventist University of the Philippines where I studied Dental Medicine. I did 5 years in this school and for my last year transferred to graduate at Phillipines Dental College in Manila. I graduated in 2017 although I didn’t return home right away. It took time and I was still figuring out how to find a job or how to integrate back to my home country, how friendly the working environment is etc. It is in this period that I thought and did some research on dentistry in Burundi, that I saw the need of introducing some things to make Burundi a better place for all. It took me two years to be able to return to Burundi and finally launched back in 2019.
Akeza.net: How did you come up with the idea of creating BuDental Mission?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: BuDental is a short come from Burundi-Dental. Based on my findings in the practice of dentistry here, I realized that we needed some improvement in oral healthcare in all sectors. This means on the part of the dental practitioner side, the community awareness and hospital availability of dental care. Dental treatment is unaffordable for majority; there is this factor and the neglect of not seeing the importance on most people’s part. Some don’t think they need a dental check up until there is extreme pain, but usually when the pain is intolerable, it is usually too late to save a tooth and so extraction or tooth removal is the most common treatment used. This is what I’d like to change in the minds of people because we ‘Dentists’ don’t just extract teeth but we also treat them to conserve them in the mouth. We treat diseases that affect the head and neck areas, dentistry is a broad field and I want to encourage many people to think of taking this course. I’d like to remove the neglect of people who look down on this course as it is needed and rare in this country. I want Burundians to tell the difference of a Doctor is dental medicine, a dental hygienist or therapist, a dental technician and dental assistant as these are not the same. We do have nurses who are trained to treat teeth but they are not dentists. I want the population to know that those who are trained have a license number and they must check who is treating them for safety purpose. BuDental Mission organization wants to educate the people and clarify certain things in the dental practice. The future is bright and hopeful for dentistry in Burundi if we work together. As I see it, I am on a mission to improve oral healthcare in Burundi
It occurred to me I had to start with the means that I have. I said let’s start by teaching. For us to be able to teach a community, we need to make sure they need it. I started by telling them.
Henceforth, I started by the kids for when you start doing something while you are still a child, or young, it becomes a habit and when you get older, you do not need to be taught again. I make sure their parents are informed to follow up on make kids. Make sure they have brushed their teeth twice a day, but also do the effort to find toothbrushes and toothpastes.
Akeza.net: What is at the agenda of BuDental Mission?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: In our forthcoming projects, we are planning to set up centers in all the provinces of Burundi and provide easier and faster access to treatment. We want to see a more organized dentistry or the dental healthcare department for all Burundians.
We want BuDental to be able to link patients to the best dentists in town. Help people to rich out the right dentist in the right time. In this regard, we want to have access to adequate dental materials so that the dentists can practice at ease.
Akeza.net: How often should one brush their teeth a day?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: Realistically speaking, it’s best to brush your teeth three times a day when you have three meals a day for it is healthier to brush teeth after meal. However, at lunch, it’s easier to forget because of the busy work schedule, So, we say that a good time to brush your teeth is in the morning (after breakfast) and in the evening after the meal. So, twice a day is good.
Akeza.net: Taking into account the dentist’s work, what would be your message to your fellow dentists?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: As we have an association of Burundian Dentists, my message would be requesting for their continuous support and collaboration. Together, I know that we can be able to improve the dentistry or oral healthcare in Burundi. I am already learning a lot from those that have been practicing longer. I respect them for pulling it together despite the challenges. They are doing well and I’m glad I’m not alone because they are already encouraging and inspiring to me.
Akeza.net: What do you think about those people extracting patients’ teeth without adequate knowledge?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: I think this is due to the lack of sufficient dentistry schools here in Burundi. It is necessary to train people on how to extract teeth because there are not a lot of dentists to cover the whole country. Nevertheless, there is something in question with that. So, we are working on it through our Dental association. It’s a concern we have already noticed.
Akeza.net: What was your dream when you were a child?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: To be a lawyer or a pilot or piano performer. But I still remember the day when my grandpa bought me a white coat ant told me: “I want you to be a doctor someday”.
Yet, in the high school music was my passion. I loved music as well and I played piano too for I got the opportunity to learn music. Hence, a lot of people thought I would take music piano performing major in university but to my surprise I ended up in dentistry.
Akeza.net: What kind of music do you enjoy?
Doctor Cynthia NDUWAYO: I love the gospels, contemporary music, and old-school or slow. Apart from those styles, I like to tune in Rap and Hip Hop, and Reggae music. So, in few words, I love the art.
Akeza.net: How can art be linked to dentistry?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: Dentistry is in Medicine but also it is related to art. You have to be good with your hands as we measure tooth surfaces in millimeters and do curves while cutting teeth or doing a cut in surgery. So, your dexterity has to be sufficient.
Akeza.net: Do you like games?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: I love football, very much.
Akeza.net: And what is your favorite football player and football team?
Dr Cynthia NDUWAYO: My ever-favorite football player is Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, the Brazilian. Brazil is my favorite football country, and my favorite football team is for sure Real Madrid.
Interview by Melchisédeck BOSHIRWA