Brighter Smiles Group. Unsurpassed understanding. Unparalleled friend to Uganda.
Andrew first went to Uganda 60 years ago (image) and has returned an almost uncountable number of times since. As a paediatrician, Andrew has over half a lifetime been able to improve child health in Uganda by employing school-based health promotion. a concept that he originally developed in collaboration with Canada’s First Nations for their school system. The model seeks to creatively engage school children and their teachers to enable each child to acquire knowledge and practical life-skills that benefit their long term health. It is an approach now endorsed globally by WHO.
Andrew’s approach met its first success in the dramatic improvement of oral health among Ugandan children. Andrew points out that .. It is notable that number one reason a child in Canada requires a general anesthetic, with all its risks, needs for specialized staff and equipment and its fear for a child, is for badly decayed teeth !.
Andrew, a Consultant at UBC both in Pediatrics and Urology founded his ‘Brighter Smiles’ organization to promote and implement his programs from a Canadian base and in the early 2000’s merged it as a member program of Rose Charities (bringing a huge panoply of experience, innovation and scope to the latter) and remains one of the most distinguished, internationally focused members of the Rose family
Andrews Africa programs (both Uganda and elsewhere) are, significantly, collaborations with local communities. Oral health (as mentioned above) led on to nutrition. Andrew promoted school health-nutrition plants plots and now many Ugandan schools now plant gardens and use the produce to benefit malnourished pupils through lunch programs. Malnutrition weakens children’s resistance to common infections and restricts their ability to learn. Andrew points out how much anemia and delayed reading age are remediable by the addition of vitamin A and iron to children’s diets, which in Uganda were regularly deficient in such. Researching this, his teams found that the innovation of combined planting in school gardens of a new, vitamin A and iron rich yellow sweet potato rootstock with the maize and beans traditionally grown was a highly effective solution.
Malaria in Schools program. One of Andrews major successes to date has been his malaria in school alleviation program. Seeing the problem of endemic malaria as much as an education as a health problem (days missed with stress on child and family superimposed on the danger of the illness) Andrew introduced highly monitored and personally researched program of early diagnosis and treatment, actually carried out by teachers, specifically trained to do so.
Andrew writes.. ‘The solution offered, although simple, was novel at the time. Supported by the Hillman fund (another Rose Charities member group) , our teams taught teachers how to ‘test and treat’ malaria by using a rapid screening test on a drop of blood and artemisinin combination therapy. This safely makes available WHO advocated tools to fight malaria available in rural areas with limited or no access to clinics. A two year evaluation documenting the change in duration of absence from school due to malaria has shown that this school-based approach significantly reduces morbidity – the prevalence of disease in the school area. . Pre-intervention, children used to miss an average of 6.5 school days with each bout of infection, but this has fallen to less than 1 day where teachers are able to screen all the children found to be sick at school (photo 3), and promptly treat those testing positive.’
The extent of Andrews charitable achievements considerably go beyond those above and include urological assistance to rural Uganda seniors (and in Canada, technological invention), promotion of anti-violence-on-women. ( an ongoing campaign has seen a partnership with one of Uganda’s leading popular song studios with their star performers in the development of a song ‘Tekawo Enjawulo’ – We can make it better). Andrew is constantly researching data to find novel or unrecognized ways to improve the wellbeing of communities and the women, men and children who constitute them.
Andrew Macnab, is a truly outstanding member of the Rose Charities ‘family’ who devotes vast experience, academic and practical ability for the benefit of others and has, and continues to both save and improve the lives of tens of thousands, directly and by linkage, to millions. He makes the world a better place