Dental Therapy Lecturer earns PhD Promoting Oral Healthcare Policy Development
Dr Ahmed Muslim’s PhD study involved a comparative analysis of oral healthcare policy in Australia and South Africa, shedding light on similarities and differences between developed and developing countries
The study was designed to allow comprehensive comparative policy analysis that could lead to an understanding and contextualisation of the complex policy environments found in developed and developing countries.
Muslim said: ‘Health policy analysis aims to explain the interaction between institutions, interests and ideas in the policy process in order to ensure the best possible health outcomes.’
Results from the study revealed that South Africa and Australia had policy development and implementation structures that were historically embedded within the countries’ unique social contexts, and offered lessons regarding their strengths and weaknesses that could be applied cross-nationally to improve healthcare policy-making and provision.
‘The lessons offered from the cross-national oral health policy analysis could be adjusted and implemented to both developed and developing countries in order to improve their oral health policy development, implementation and reform structures and processes,’ said Muslim.
He said he had lived and worked in both Australia and South Africa, and therefore had an intimate knowledge of the oral health systems, challenges and opportunities in both countries.
‘There is a perception that First-World countries have superior, adequately-financed, optimal and quality health care while Third World countries have inferior, poorly-financed, sub-optimal and poor quality healthcare systems,’ said Muslim.
‘I realised that both countries offered opportunities and initiatives in addressing the challenges of appropriate, acceptable, affordable and accessible oral healthcare, and that cross-national lessons could be identified and applied which could, with modification, be applied cross-nationally,’ said Muslim.
‘As my passion is dental public health, this study afforded me the opportunity of seeking solutions to some of the oral healthcare challenges that exist, thus leading to improved societal oral health and healthcare delivery.’
Muslim said the past three years had been challenging, both personally and academically, and having to burn the proverbial midnight oil while continuing with his academic and clinical challenges had been difficult. Muslim said time was always a challenge, and effective and efficient time management was the only answer to this.
‘I am glad I have completed my studies. I must add though that while I am the one who graduated, I recognise the assistance and encouragement of a vast team in my success. They include my parents; my family; my supervisor, Dr Shenuka Singh; academics and support staff within the Discipline and School; the College Dean of Research, Prof Chimbari; the former and current Deans and Head of School, Prof Sabiha Essack and Prof Mahmoud Soliman, and a host of other people.’
He said he intends publishing some of his research in leading dental health and policy journals. ‘Academically, I would like to move on to becoming a senior lecturer and a permanent staff member at UKZN.’
In 2013 he was awarded the Biomedical Research Ethics Committee Fellowship, winning first prize in the category credentialing staff at the College of Health Sciences Research Day in 2014.