New leadership, new venues – WHO appoints new Director General

31 May 2017

On behalf of FDI, I would like to congratulate former Ethiopian Minister of Health, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his appointment as Director-General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO), possibly the most important job in global health. His appointment follows an election process at the 70th World Health Assembly in May and hopefully African Member States can in particular look forward to a boost to health strategy on the African continent during the new DGs five-year mandate.

Today, the international policy environment provides challenges and opportunities and we hope to pursue and intensify our collaboration with WHO during the next five years. We look forward to working with Dr Tedros and his international team on ways of recognizing and prioritizing oral health in the context of global public health and development as well as into WHO’s work programme, priorities and budget.

As dentists, it is crucial for us to link and integrate oral health with the Sustainable Development Goals and advocate the integration of oral diseases into action plans for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

Destination San Francisco in 2019

I am pleased to announce that the 2019 FDI World Dental Congress (WDC) will take place in San Francisco in collaboration with our friends and partners at the American Dental Association (ADA). This is excellent news: the last time a WDC took place in North America was in Mexico City in 2011 – and in the United States, we need to look over 20 years to Orlando in 1996.

San Francisco is an excellent choice and truly exceptional venue. Our team in the Geneva office looks forward to working with their counterparts to create a truly memorable event.

FDI and the regions

Regional organizations are a very important component of FDI’s overall strategic focus. They recognize that certain oral health priorities, issues of concern and subjects of debate are specific to regions and need to be addressed at a regional level. In addition, regional dental congresses provide the opportunity to raise the profile of oral health among decision makers to ensure it is assigned an appropriate level of regional priority and budget.

As FDI President, my own priority over the last 30 days has been the FDI regions: this focus began in Geneva with the plenary meeting of the European Regional Organization, 21–22 April (reported in my previous Letter) and ended in Macau, 22–25 May, with the plenary of the Asia-Pacific Regional Organization (APRO), which is the Asia-Pacific Dental Federation (APDF). It was held in the context of the Asia-Pacific Dental Congress.

In between, FDI held two highly successful regional congresses: the 1st FDI African Regional Dental Congress, 27–29 April, in Marrakesh, and the FDI Middle Eastern Dental Congress, 15–18 May, in Tehran, Iran. Amongst all this, I had the opportunity to visit our friends at the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) to celebrate their 150th anniversary. The ODA is a member of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).

Strategy for Africa

With our partners AMPBD (Association marocaine pour la prévention bucco-dentaire), our grand ambition for the Marrakesh congress was, to ‘lead Africa to optimal oral health’ and encourage significant spin-offs for dental practice on the African continent.

Aside its success as a regional dental congress, the Africa Forum in Marrakesh proved to be the culmination of the initial phase of FDI’s Strategy for Africa. It assembled 20 leaders from national dental associations (NDAs) on the African continent, who reported the outcomes of the FDI strategy, progress in implementing the Minamata Convention on Mercury and activities to celebrate World Oral health Day 2017.

I reminded participants of the Declaration made at the Africa Summit 12,000 km away in Cape Town in 2012, which defined priorities for FDI’s Strategy for Africa as being:

  1. establish and reinforce the credibility of NDAs;
  2. acquire and develop leadership and management skills; and
  3. foster effective peer-to-peer exchange of information among Africa-based NDAs.

The right to oral health

Later in May I joined our friends and partners at the Iranian Dental Association (IDA) in Tehran for the FDI Middle Eastern Regional Congress, held under the commitment to a ‘Declaration of oral health rights’ and highlighting education, prevention and treatment by the Iranian dental community.

I was very impressed with the scientific programme, featuring world-class national and international speakers and a wide range of subject areas. The event, held alongside the exceptional 57th Exhibition and Congress of the IDA (EXCIDA), was a milestone for our two organizations and a model of collaboration between FDI and one of its member NDAs. The Middle Eastern Regional Congress programme is the first in a series of three up to 2019.

FDI and APDF: working together

It was a great joy for me to meet up with friends and colleagues in Macau to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the official recognition of the APDF as the regional organization of FDI, APRO, which took place at the FDI General Assembly held in Paris in 1967.

I will also take this opportunity to thank APDF/APRO for their support to FDI over the years and highlight the recent progress in aligning our constitutions, which will greatly facilitate working together in the interests of regional and global oral health.

It was also a pleasure to address the opening of the 39th Asia Pacific Dental Congress (22–25 May), which took place in parallel with our regional meetings: it provided an opportunity, among other things, to officially present and promote FDI’s definition of oral health in the Asia-Pacific region.

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