Write to ministers to make oral health a priority

A leading global dental organisation is urging dentists to petition chief dental officers (CDOs) and government ministers to ensure oral health is put at the top of the agenda at the United Nations Summit on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

This year, the World Oral Health Day (WOHD) theme is on NCDs, and the FDI World Dental Federation suggests the NCD summit the following week provides ‘a great opportunity to attract the attention of the media’ to ensure oral health receives a specific mention on the day.

Earlier this month, Jean-Luc Eiselé, executive director of the World Dental Federation (FDI), told a UN civil society hearing on non-communicable disease (NCDs) that the current list – which comprises cancer, diabetes and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases – should be extended to oral disease.

All oral conditions share common risk factors with the other four major NCDs, including unhealthy diet (particularly high sugar consumption), tobacco, and harmful alcohol use.

Mr Eiselé argued that oral health professionals should be an integral part of the solution for prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

The FDI will be organising a special WOHD press event at it annual World Dental Congress in Mexico, which will include the launch of an innovative toolkit for use by health professionals worldwide to assess NCD risk factors and provide appropriate information to health professionals and patients.

And, in its latest drive to ensure global recognition of oral health, the FDI is urging oral health professionals to contact government health ministers and CDOs about the upcoming United Nations Summit on noncommunicable diseases, due to take place in New York on 19 September.

The FDI believes that oral health should be mentioned at various points in the Summit Declaration and have carried out some advocacy activities within the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) to support this view.

However, they say that the feedback they have received indicates that, ‘at this point, oral health still has little support and is unlikely to figure in the Final Declaration unless at the specific request of member governments’.

In an open letter, they say: ‘By writing to your health authorities and arranging a meeting, you may be able to convince them to include oral health in their written commentary and interventions at the Summit. There is a letter on our website that you can download and use as a model.

‘You will find some background details below. In addition, we have attached a Special Advisory document to help in your discussions with the minister.’

For further information, click here.

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