Unity of purpose at the Mid-Year Meetings
It is heartening to report that FDI's good form continues unabated, with our recent Mid-Year Meetings demonstrating the commitment of Council and the Standing Committees to work together to reach the goals our Federation has set for the coming years - and, above all, communicate their activities.
This was most clearly illustrated during the plenary session, which comprised reporting from the Executive Committee on FDI's current work and priorities, the preliminary results of World Oral Health Day and a brief outline of FDI's financial performance in 2015.
The session continued with leaders of the Vision 2020 Think Tank presenting the new definition of oral health for debate and input from participants, which lead to a lively debate. This was followed by the reports on the current and future activities from the Chairs of the five Council Standing Committees.
Elsewhere at the Mid-Year meetings, I am happy to report that the action plans for advocacy and communications were well received by the Council. In addition, FDI will be moving forward with its corporate plan of action in 2016 and 2017 in line with the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan.
The role of face-to-face meetings
I opened the plenary proceedings with a brief report actions we are taking to strengthen relationships between FDI and its member national dental associations (NDAs). The agenda of the President and members of Council is so full during the Annual World Dental Congress that essential face-to-face meetings are virtually impossible. I advised the plenary of my efforts to remedy this with discussions with NDAs from Latin America in São Paulo, and with NDAs in Chicago, Warsaw, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
A visit to Madrid to consolidate relations with the Spanish Dental Association in view of our common goals for the 2017 Annual World Dental Congress and to participate in the launch of our landmark second edition of the Oral Health Atlas in Spanish.
I briefly described projects underway in partnership with Unilever, Colgate, Ivoclar-Vivadent and GC Corporation as well as the projected Global Periodontal Health Project (GPHP), whose component parts will require all committees to build a new basic language for working together.
I was very happy to report Council approval of the recommendations by the Vision 2020 Task Team for the FDI Advocacy Strategy to be renamed Vision 2020 and encapsulate activities at both national and international level. It comes at a particularly auspicious moment when agencies such as the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency are actively seeking input from FDI at key events.
With this in mind, FDI's recent acceptance as a member of the NCD Alliance Supporters Consultation Group consolidates the process begun in 2011. In that year, we achieved our aim of having a specific reference to oral diseases in the United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.
World Oral Health Day 2016
FDI President-Elect Dr Kathy Kell then reported the preliminary results of World Oral Health Day 2016. First indications suggest that this key event has achieved an even greater outreach especially over the social media, which has been a key focus of this year's campaign.
Kathy highlighted in particular the early success of the smartphone game Mad Mouths, now permanently available on the App Store and Google Play store. She further reported on the success of other key elements of the campaign such as the video and pledges and the redeployment of the customized app that had proved so successful in 2015.
FDI Treasurer Dr Jack Cottrell then rounded up the opening session with an upbeat report on FDI performance. He stressed FDI's rapid transformation from weakness to strength, underpinned by strong and prudent financial management involving austerity, cost-cutting measures and a less risky approach to congress management.
Jack reported that 2015 had yielded a good surplus. This is mainly due to an increase in sponsorship and partnership opportunities as well as significant cost cutting in the office itself. Work is already underway to develop a new reserves policy to ensure a stable and successful FDI. Jack anticipated a small surplus in 2016.
Vision 2020 and Think Tank
During plenary part 2, Vision 2020 Think Tank by Co-Chairs Professors Michael Glick and David Williams detailed the rationale and work involved in developing a universally and practically applicable definition of oral health, characterized as the essential starting point for making comparisons and measuring improvement.
Submitting this definition to the comment and critique of a variety of stakeholders - patients, NGOs, academia, the wider health community, policy makers, etc. - had yielded a consensus framework for defining oral health, which Michael and David presented to the plenary. This framework is set to play a key role in integrating oral health into the wider health community and inform FDI's future advocacy.
Part 3 of the plenary was devoted to the reports of the five Council Standing Committees:
Science Committee (SC) Chair Dr Harry-Sam Selikowitz told us that four policy statements have been approved for submission to the FDI General Assembly and that a scientific forum will take place in Poznan on 'translating science to health policy and oral health actions', which will focus on Minamata Convention on Mercury.
With reference to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, he noted his intervention on the subject of funding the phase-down of amalgam in Least Developed Countries at the 7th meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC7). For new projects, he outlined some research within the context of the GPHP, scientific updates in hot topics such as nanotechnology and work to inform members about issues related to genetics and genetic testing.
For the Education Committee (EC), Chair Dr Sally Hewett had some very good news: the Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition (CCEPR) awarded FDI a 4 year term of recognition, allowing FDI congress participants to get CE Credits. She further emphasized top-level cooperation with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) in developing this year's scientific programme, which boasts and a line-up of speakers from every region of the world, as well as specific one-day programmes in German and Ukrainian.
Sally introduced us to the new category of abstracts for case studies and announced a total of 843 abstract submissions in 2016. These will be submitted to double-blind review by members of the Education Committee and LOC. Sally was particularly forceful in stressing the need for more international reviewers. She told the plenary that winners of the each category of poster in 2016 will receive free registration to the 2017 congress in Madrid and peer-review for possible publication in the International Dental Journal. I would like to join Sally in paying tribute to the work of the CE Programme Directors, who are supervising 43 separate events around the world in 2016.
Nicolai Sharkov, Chair of the Membership Liaison and Support Committee (MLSC), described how each committee member works with a specific region to ensure maximum inclusivity. He further outlined the details of the 'Member supports member' movement, which seeks to encourage high-income members to support the work of low-income members.
Citing support by the Canadian National Dental Association for Cambodia and Afghanistan and by the Bulgarian Dental Association for the Association Médicale Scientifique Républicaine de Stomatologie – Bulgaria, he encouraged members to be transparent in their financial support to other members.
Nick also told us about the MLSC project to classify policy statements, now in stage three, where each committee member is assigned between 12 and 13 policy statements and asked to identify keywords for each. This classification will be used for the search selection on the policy statement webpage. For the Travel Grant, Nick described it as henceforth a continuous project with its own budget.
On behalf of the Dental Practice Committee (DPC), Chair Dr Ward van Dijk announced that four policy statements would be submitted to the General Assembly in September. He told us that the Oral Health Observatory is currently 'on hold' awaiting further funding but that it had already yielded two documents on the outcome of the pilots. (Funding issues were resolved during the meeting of the Council the following day).
For projects, Ward announced that a special DPC forum in Poznan would focus on Green Dentistry. On Quality in Dentistry, he noted that discussions had yielded a document containing a list of attributes, a definition and a conceptual framework, and outlined options for the project's future development. He concluded with an update on the development of the 2nd edition of FDI's ground-breaking Dental Ethics Manual.
Public Health Committee Chair Dr Jo Frencken told the plenary that FDI's current Brush Day & Night project, underway in 10 schools in as many countries, would be completed by end 2016. It would be followed by a global analysis to measure the improvement of knowledge, behaviour and oral health status. Three projects funded by the World Dental Development Fund are currently underway and Council to further eligible projects. (Funding issues were resolved during the meeting of the Council the following day)
Jo handed the floor to PHC Vice-Chair Dr Paulo Melo to describe the Oral Health Promotion and Prevention Worldwide (OHPPW) project. A key feature will be short targeted prevention messages translated into visuals or animations. The pilot will focus primarily on expectant mothers and children. Another project, the Basic Package of Oral Care (BPOC), is in the pipeline. If funded, the project would be complemented by community-oriented oral health promotion programmes and implemented by trained oral health care personnel.