University of Manchester bags global citizenship award for healthcare initiative

A University of Manchester initiative which engages its students’ healthcare improvement work in hard to reach communities in the UK and beyond has come third in a prestigious international prize for global citizenship.

The Humanising Healthcare programme gives dentistry, pharmacy and optometry students the chance to deliver healthcare and healthcare education to poorer communities as part of the curriculum.

The MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship, launched in 2009, recognizes exemplary university student civic engagement programs around the world and is a key element in the MacJannet Foundation’s work to build a community of global citizens.

The prize is sponsored jointly by the MacJannet Foundation and the Talloires Network, a global association of 388 universities in 77 countries on six continents, all committed to developing student leaders who are actively engaged with society.

The Selection Committee said they were impressed by the initiative and wished to recognize and support the continued civic and community engagement work.

The scheme built on the success of a dentistry Service-Learning programme called Humanising Dentistry’, established in 2012 by Dr Senathirajah (Raj) Ariyaratnam and shortlisted for the 2018 MacJannet prize for Global Citizenship.

The work extended to pharmacy and optometry education to create the ‘Humanising Healthcare’ programme.

Dr Ariyaratnam said: “Humanising Healthcare is based on the premise that we cannot create excellent healthcare professionals of tomorrow without creating engaged ones.

“Our goal is therefore to support students to deliver essential healthcare and healthcare education to different communities as part of the curriculum.

“But it’s also about encouraging global volunteering while creating a workforce characterised by civic values and skills that have direct community benefit in meeting health challenges.”

Up to 2019, when COVID-19 struck, around 1,000 dental students treated 38,720 paediatric and 140,800 adult patients respectively over 10 years as a core part of the curriculum.

And 150 students volunteered in 15 countries across the world to provide oral health care and education to thousands of people under the supervision of the local dentists.