Oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people globally and have a significant impact on individuals, communities, health systems, economies and society at large. Consequences of oral disease on individuals are both physical and psychosocial. Yet despite their magnitude, awareness of oral diseases among politicians, health planners and even members of the public health community remains low. This often leads to oral public health interventions to be regarded as a luxury rather than a fundamental human right.
As a result, although oral disease is one of the most common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide it does not get the necessary attention. However, there is clear evidence that oral disease is not inevitable, but can be reduced or prevented through simple and effective measures at all stages of the life course, both at the individual and population levels. Urgent action is needed to avoid escalating costs to governments and individuals as well to control the growing disease burden.
"Oral health is an integral part of general health and wellbeing and a basic human right."
The Liverpool Declaration
The solution: prioritizing oral diseases at the national and global levels
FDI’s advocacy strategy is known as Vision 2020. Its activities are conducted at two levels:
National level: driven by the landmark publication FDI Vision 2020 - Shaping the future of oral health in 2012, which focuses specifically on how oral health can be improved through changes to national legislation and regulation. FDI works with its member associations to ensure the oral health community is aligned and equipped to put pressure on their governments to call for oral disease to be addressed within their country health action plans and prioritized at a national level.
Global level: focuses on raising the profile of oral health on the global health and development agenda, which includes FDI representation at key United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) and Noncommunicable Diseases Alliance (NCD Alliance) platforms. FDI ensures the interests of our member associations and the oral health community at large are represented when policies are formed as they will be the ones impacted when implementing them at a national level.
This two-pronged approach is essential to growing awareness and visibility for oral disease prevention and control at both the governmental and population levels, and in ensuring their prioritization alongside other diseases. Significant initiatives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the recognition of oral diseases and other NCDs as an increasing global burden, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury provide new and powerful opportunities for advocacy, integration and cross-sectoral approaches.
Vision 2020 strategic objectives