An exciting year ahead for FDI

26 January 2017

For my first Letter of 2017, I would like to express my confidence that FDI can keep up the momentum of 2016 in all aspects of its work. We have a number of exciting campaigns, projects and events underway, which will serve to once again enhance the reputation of FDI as the go-to organization for oral health worldwide.

For our worldwide membership, I wish you the greatest success for your national plans and projects in 2017 – and remember, tell us what you have in mind. Of course, you send your reports to the Member Support and Liaison Committee and it's always a pleasure to read of your achievements. Your plans for the year ahead are, however, equally valuable to us because they give us a better idea of your future priorities and actions and how FDI could support your efforts on a global level.

In this regard, you will shortly be receiving a survey from the head office, asking a series of questions about FDI, its activities and priorities. I would ask you all to respond within the deadline because we very much need your input to develop the next FDI strategic plan, covering the period 2018-2021.

Exceptional contributions

Thank you to the FDI Standing Committees, Task Teams and Working Groups: your contribution in 2016 was truly exceptional and preliminary reports on your work programme in 2017 suggest that you will equal or even better that performance. The quality of work and your commitment to FDI is much appreciated: an example of this is the striving for excellence in the development of the Policy Statements and ensuring their relevance for the dental community around the world.

I would like to address a message to our industry partners – Colgate, GC Corporation International AG, Henry Schein, Ivoclar-Vivadent, Morita, Philips, Planmeca Oy, Wrigley - who are actively participating in our campaigns, projects or oral health advocacy. Thank you for believing in and supporting the work of FDI and for helping us achieve our objectives in oral health worldwide.

A special word of thanks to Unilever, with whom we have just renewed our long-term partnership dating back twelve years. And a warm welcome to GSK and Electro Medical Systems (EMS). With the support of GSK, we can move forward in areas such as the Oral Health Observatory and, together with EMS, the Global Periodontal Health Project (GPHP).

The year ahead

At the top of the list is the World Oral Health Day 2017 campaign 'Live Mouth Smart', which we will roll out in the next two months, culminating on 20 March, World Oral Health Day itself. First launched in 2007 in Dubai, and following a hesitant start, the campaign was fully activated in 2013, reaching some 6 million people, and has grown exponentially since, with an estimated more than 140 million in 2016. Now we have the audience, the aim is to deepen the messaging so the campaign evolves from raising awareness about oral health to changing behaviour to protect the functions of the oral cavity.

In 2017, our World Dental Congress moves to Madrid, hosted by our good friends at the Spanish Dental Association. Madrid itself is an exceptional venue: in any year, it is in the top three of the world's congress destinations. For the Scientific Programme, we're looking at an exceptional turnout of international and national experts and a wide range of subject areas. For those among you who wish to submit an abstract, remember that the abstract submission deadline is 3 April. Also, when you're promoting FDI Madrid 2017 to your members, it will be useful to advise them that Madrid is a prime tourist destination and that the Congress dates are still high season. It will therefore be worthwhile to remind them to register early and at the same time benefit from the early-bird rate.

Regional and CEP

I am very pleased to announce that the first FDI Persian Regional Dental Congress was so successful – some 12,000 participants – that FDI and the Iranian Dental Association have signed an agreement to hold an FDI Middle Eastern Regional Dental Congress in 2017, 2018 and 2019. I attended the 2016 event in Tehran in May. It was opened by the Minister of Health - and I was very impressed by the efficient organization and the quality and content of the scientific programme (FDI fielded nine international speakers) as well as by the congress exhibition, EXCIDA 56.

We are also looking to develop our worldwide Continuing Education Programme (CEP), which is taking place in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East in 2017. As you can see, no CEP courses will be available for the moment in Africa and Latin America: we hope to remedy this situation once the new regional directors are in place. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners the International Conference on Oral Implantologists (ICOI) who are committed to supporting courses in six countries. Other partners have also shown interest in this initiative.

Strategy and advocacy

The first FDI Regional Congress for Africa will be taking place in Marrakesh, 27–29 April, and we have great hopes that it will be a true platform for debate, uniting the Mediterranean region to the north with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to the south. It follows closely on the publication in July 2016 of WHO regional oral health strategy for Africa 2016–2025, which, in line with the FDI approach, addresses oral disease within an overall strategy for NCDs. The Marrakesh Congress will also no doubt be the high point of FDI's Strategy for Africa in 2017.

Meanwhile, the first challenge of the year comes at the end of January, when FDI will once again address the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. There are three items of specific relevance to FDI on this year's agenda. First, antimicrobial resistance – and you may recall that this was the subject of a special hot topic session during the FDI World Dental congress 2016. Second, noncommunicable diseases, notably Preparation for the third High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, to be held in 2018. Third, progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We look forward to pushing the oral health agenda on a global level to help support your efforts at a national level.

I wish all readers a happy and productive year ahead.

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