Scholarship recipient determined to make a difference to dental health in rural areas

A second-year Doctor of Dental Medicine postgraduate student from The University of Western Australia is this year’s recipient of the Country Women’s Association of Western Australia Rural Dental Scholarship.

The scholarship will enable Ebony Grigo, 22, from Bunbury, to achieve her career goal of improving dental healthcare in rural and disadvantaged communities.

Country Women’s Association scholarships offer financial support to students working in regional and rural areas of the State who are improving health care and education in regional WA.

Ms Grigo said she had an interest in treating and educating children in the Wheatbelt, South West and Midwest regions of WA and shaping early mindsets towards oral hygiene.

“I have seen a disparity in dental health standards between remote and rural areas compared to metropolitan areas,” she said.

“When I was growing up in Bunbury, I did not receive the same interactive learning about dental hygiene that benefitted my city colleagues. I want to see this change.

“I also feel that regional centres such as Bunbury and Dalyellup that don’t have access to fluoridated drinking water is saddening. These areas are far from remote, and fluoridation is a simple, safe and effective means of reducing tooth decay. Such preventative measures are particularly important in regional areas where access to a dentist can be difficult and infrequent.”

Affordability of dental treatment for rural residents is also on Ms Grigo’s agenda.

“I am very enthusiastic about getting involved in such substantial public health matters and, once I have graduated and gained more experience, contributing to finding ways to solve them,” she said.

State President of the CWA of WA, Elaine Johnson said the Association was very proud to work closely with The University of Western Australia to offer the Rural Dental Scholarship as well as a Rural Medical Scholarship.

“Our collaboration with The University of Western Australia has been ongoing for over 30 years to achieve better health care for people in regional and rural areas of the State by encouraging students to work outside of metropolitan Perth,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Our most recent dental scholarship recipient Dr Rani Flynn, commenced in private practice in Esperance this year.

“We look forward to watching Ebony progress through her studies and wish her every success in fulfilling her dreams to work as a dentist in regional WA.”

UWA Associate Professor Robert Anthonappa, Dean and Head of UWA Dental School, said Ms Grigo’s intentions to serve rural areas which originated from reflecting on her own experience, was commendable.

“I believe that tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today and I am confident Ebony will do well in her future endeavours,” he said.

The CWA Rural Dental Scholarship was established in 2012 and is awarded to a dental student studying at UWA. The student receives $5,000 per year for the term of their full-time postgraduate degree.

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