Bulela Vava

My name is Bulela Vava and I identify as a man. I am a public sector dentist working in the heart of rural South Africa for the Eastern Cape Department of Health at a former mission hospital known as St Barnabas Hospital. However, I consider myself a dynamic young professional with a deep seated interest in rural health, largely driven by my passion for protecting and defending the health rights of rural persons. I am passionate about public oral health, taking a significant liking in rural health research, public oral health systems, oral health strategy and policy development.

I continue to seek new service delivery related challenges, to realise my long term dream of finding innovative ways of responding to the health rights violations of rural South Africans by offering and improving access to health services, and in my particular context, oral health services.

My state responsibilities as a dentist are limited to the provision of oral health services to the community within which I work, but my responsibilities as a rural health advocate transcend a few boundaries. Both as a member of the South African Dental Association (SADA) and Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA), where I also serve as the National Student Liaison, I draw on multi-sectoral collaboration in the continuous struggle for access to quality healthcare (oral health included) services for rural populations.

I have recently taken a keen interest in mentorship and discipleship of the next generation of rural health advocates and I spend a portion of my time engaging with various student organisations and platforms to contribute to the transformation of the rural social and health landscape.

I currently hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dentistry (University of Pretoria) and hope to register for an MSc in Community Dentistry or get into a specialisation programme in the same field. The purpose being to develop myself as a thought leader and improve my knowledge around community based (public) oral health strategy and policy innovation. I hope to use the wealth of knowledge and experiences gained through academic endeavour to improve the delivery of health services in particularly rural provinces and help drive sustainable change at the coalface of oral healthcare delivery.