Building networks in Sri Lanka to tackle Oral Cancer

As part of the research collaboration with Sri Lanka, funded by an internal GCRF networking grant, a small team from the University of Aberdeen visited Colombo during the first week of December.

As the principal investigator of the GCRF grant, Dr Rasha Abu Eid (Institute of Dentistry) joined by Prof Jaya Jayasinghe (Institute of Dentistry) and Dr David Green (School of Geosciences) embarked on a trip to Sri Lanka to strengthen the research collaborations with multiple institutes across the country.

The over-arching research topic is oral cancer which has a very high incidence in Sri Lanka. This is attributed to various risk factors that the research collaboration is looking into. This particular grant is focused on using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for mapping the incidence and risk factors of oral cancer in Sri Lanka.

During their visit, the team from Aberdeen had multiple meetings with officials from different departments at the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine. This included meeting with the Deputy Director General (Dental Services), and multiple officials from the Health Information Directorate, National Cancer Control Programme and The Institute of Oral Health.

The team visited the Sri Lanka School Dental Therapist Service and learnt about the course and the Dental Public Health services provided.

The team also visited the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and met with the Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences and the Head of the Microbiology Department. The department is currently hosting one of the Institute of Dentistry’s PhD students, who is collecting data from cancer patients in Sri Lanka.

Oral Cancer Symposium

An important event organised jointly by the University of Aberdeen and the Institute of Oral Health was a Symposium about Oral Cancer that focussed on innovative research collaborations. Delegates from the Ministry of Health, The University of Peradeniya, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and general dental surgeons from all over the country attended the symposium.

Prof Jayasinghe, Dr Green and Dr Abu Eid were among the speakers. The symposium also included talks from leading academics in the field of Oral Cancer.  As part of the symposium, a workshop that focused on regional variations of oral cancer in Sri Lanka was run by the organisers.

 After a successful trip, the team are looking forward to future fruitful research collaborations with different institutes in Sri Lanka.

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