Resounding success of series of events in April

28 April 2017

April was a high-point of 2017, featuring a series of back-to back major events comprising most notably the resoundingly successful mid-Year meetings and associated FDI strategy workshop. We also heard the first results of World Oral Health Day 2017, which reported exponential growth reflected in a potential audience of 600 million, an astounding figure considering the 31 million recorded in 2013.

Immediately following this the plenary of the European Regional Association (ERO) focused debate on the most pressing items of the continent’s oral health agenda. The month wound down with the first FDI Regional Congress for Africa, held in Marrakesh and organized by the Association Marocaine de Prévention Bucco-Dentaire (AMPBD), with a focus on sharing expertise, technology and scientific progress and issues hindering the development of oral health in the African continent.

I’m also pleased to report that registrations for the FDI World Dental Congress in Madrid are coming along well and are already higher than normally registered at this time in the congress cycle. The preliminary scientific programme now online features 47 expert speakers from 24 countries and covers nearly 30 major areas and issues of concern to today’s dental and oral health practitioners.

Strategic review

The success of the mid-year meeting in Goa, 7-10 April, strengthens the view of how important these meetings are to keep FDI on track and ensure effective communication between Council and the Standing Committees, Task Teams and Working Groups. The Council meeting was very productive.

The Finance Committee met to review, among other things the financial position as reflected in the latest auditor’s report. Today, we can truly state that we have exceeded our financial objectives, with a surplus of CHF 396 754 for 2016 and reserves now standing at just over CHF 4 million. In addition, the meetings of the five Standing Committees were an opportunity to take stock of progress and ensure that their work is on track. There was also a focus on their programme for 2017 along with preparation for 2018.

This year’s mid-year was also the occasion to review our performance against the Strategic Plan 2014-2017 and share and test ideas on the direction FDI should be taking during the period 2018-2020. Our 2014-2017 review was wholly positive since we matched and in most cases exceeded the ambitious goals in the fields of membership, leadership and communications. The visible and measurable results have been a restored trust in FDI image, financial stability, successful congresses, professional staff, competent committees, stability, strategic focus and integrity and a stronger regional policy.

Effective FDI advocacy, Vision 2020 and the definition of oral health will prove particularly valuable assets in the run-up to the United Nations 3rd Conference on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, scheduled for September 2018.

Strategic plan 2018-2020

Nevertheless, past successes in getting our house in order are not the guarantor of the efficiency and vision needed to face the challenges of the future. It is too early to report on conclusive statements resulting from the deliberations of our strategy workshop in Goa. The event was an exercise in lucid self-examination undertaken with determination to achieve consensus on appropriate measures to ensure our continued relevance during the next three-year period.

We are already the go-to organization for the World Health Organization on all matters pertaining to oral health as it relates to overall health policy. Our great strength is our worldwide membership and it is up to us to make the best use of this to further the goals of the dental profession and oral health.

During its nearly 120-year history – and remember FDI is one of the oldest international professional organizations in the world and its founding pre-dates the founding of WHO by nearly 50 years – FDI has developed a set of skills and knowledge which we are well placed to share with a wider community of emerging and developing countries.

ERO plenary

After Goa, I had the immense pleasure, as FDI President and a former President of the European Regional Organization (ERO), of participating in its Spring Plenary Session. Hosted by our friends at the Swiss Dental Association, it took place 21-22 April in Geneva and was also attended by the Presidents of the Council of European Dentists (CED) and the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE), respectively Dr Marco Landi and Prof. Corrado Paganelli.

It was an excellent meeting, ably chaired by ERO President Dr Anna Lella (Poland), with lively discussions on issues of major concern to the dental profession in Europe and national reports as well as summaries of current activities of ERO working groups and their future projects. For my part, I provided a full update on what FDI had been doing since the World Dental Congress in Poznan and what plans were in the pipeline for the future.

Like FDI, one of ERO’s tasks is to develop Policy Statements that lay out the current thinking in Europe on various issues related to oral health, oral health policies and the dental profession. ERO adopted one statement this year on the ‘Dental Technician Profile and Relationship with the Dentist’.

First African Regional Dental Congress

I am now looking forward to participating in the first African Regional Dental Congress, a key event on the African continent and culmination of the initial phase of FDI’s Strategy for Africa. We take great pride in this event, which provides an opportunity to share knowledge and expertise in areas of specific regional concern.

There is a special FDI Africa Forum assembling 21 countries to review the outcomes and achievements of the Strategy for Africa. Each participant from Africa-based member NDAs will have an opportunity outline measures taken towards implementing the provisions of the Minamata Convention and describe World Oral Health Day 2017 activities.

I would like to congratulate AMPBD for devising an excellent scientific programme with numerous distinguished national experts as well as international experts from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Lebanon, Nigeria, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. 

I will join Councillor Ihsane Ben Yahya and Dorte Haubek (Denmark) to chair a session on ‘Oral pathologies’, with speakers Michael Glick, Juan-Carlos Llodra and a representative from the Socio-economic and Environmental Council (Morocco). My own presentation will focus on ‘The importance of oral health for quality of life in ageing populations’.

FDI Madrid 2017

In closing, I’d also like to thank the Japanese Dental Association for their special efforts to engage their members to participate in the FDI World Dental Congress in Madrid through editorials in their association news magazine. At their request, I also wrote a special message inviting their members to Madrid, highlighting the unique nature of the FDI congress and its top-quality continuing education, as well as the opportunities for sightseeing in the city and in Spain in general.

If other member associations are keen to increase their national participation at FDI Madrid 2017 and feel that a special message from the FDI president would provide encouragement, please let me know. I will gladly oblige.

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