Celebrating World Oral Health Day

29 March 2018

FDI President Kathy Kell

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President

I was very fortunate to spend World Oral Health Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the Bangladesh Dental Society and Unilever.

Happy World Oral Health Day to all!

20 March was a great day for FDI members and partners to spread the word about the importance of oral healthcare. It was fantastic to see all our member countries celebrating World Oral Health Day (WOHD) in their own unique ways. The events received extensive coverage on all manners of social media platforms and I received countless pictures and reports from countries who were justifiably proud of the large crowds of members and the general public who attended. A special thanks must go to WOHD Task Team Chair Dr Edoardo Cavalle and the rest of the WOHD Task Team and to all FDI members hosting WOHD activities. Because of all your hard work and dedication, the 2018 WOHD campaign was a hugely successful event. We hope you will join us in 2019 to make WOHD another global success!

Dhaka delivers in style

As communication is at the heart of WOHD’s guiding ethos, it was fitting that my schedule kicked off with an appearance on Bangladeshi television. Both myself and Unilever Oral Care Global Vice President - Signal/Pepsodent Arancha Cordero were interviewed by Naveed Mahbub, a well-known local TV personality in Dhaka. Together we stressed the importance of WOHD and its theme of ‘Say Ahh! Think Mouth, Think Health’. This television interview was an important opportunity to inform the Bangladeshi public about many of the truisms we all know: brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, develop good oral health habits, eat healthy (avoid sugar, alcohol and tobacco), and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

While in Dhaka, I also spent time meeting many of the members of the Bangladesh Dental Society (BDS) and commended BDS President Professor Dr Md Abdul Kasem and Secretary General Dr Humayun Kabir Bulbul for organizing their fabulous WOHD activities. Established in 1977, the BDS is a very active society with a membership base of over 10,000 dentists (representing around 96% of registered dentists in Bangladesh).

To celebrate WOHD, BDS organized joint activities with Unilever Bangladesh’s oral care brand Pepsodent. The programme started in the morning and continued well into the night. Among the memorable highlights of the day, there was a walking rally in the morning with 160 participants carrying banners and posters. Engaging activities for children were also held as part of Unilever’s ‘Little Brush Big Brush’ campaign to encourage parents and children to brush their teeth together and develop positive oral health habits for life – there was even a two-minute mass brushing exercise. To conclude the evening, the programme featured speeches commemorating the day from myself, CEO and Managing Director of Unilever Bangladesh Kedar Lele, Unilever Oral Care Global Vice President - Signal/Pepsodent Arancha Cordero, BDS President Prof. Dr Md Abul Kasem, BDS Secretary General Dr Humayun Kabir Bulbul, Bangladesh Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mohammed Nasim, Bangladesh State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Malik, Bangladesh Member of Parliament Dr Habibe Millat, and Public Relations Officer at the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Purikshit Chowdhury. This was followed by an awards ceremony for dentists and a cultural show that gave all attendees a wonderful insight into Bangladesh’s unique traditions and heritage.

Confronting persistent issues

While in Dhaka, I had dinner with Deputy Counselor of Political and Economic Affairs Ellen Wong from the United States Embassy in Dhaka. We discussed many topical issues including the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. More than one million Rohingya are seeking refuge in Bangladesh since last year. This large influx of refugees has understandably presented the Bangladeshi government with an array of difficult challenges. More broadly, issues concerning immigration, displaced persons, and refugees continue to escalate across all continents and, in doing so, tax the existing healthcare systems. Leaders are needed in both the public and private sectors to find bold solutions, increase resources and raise awareness about the issues these populations face, including access to good oral healthcare. In fact, in the lead up to WOHD, the Dental Tribune International interviewed me and Phillips CEO of Business Group Health and Wellness Sinéad Kwant about how organizations can take steps to improve oral health globally and leverage WOHD to achieve positive outcomes such as improving global access to oral healthcare.

Staying informed and engaged on advocacy issues

Advocacy is a critical component of FDI’s mission to lead the world to optimal oral health. Through specific and targeted advocacy, we can accelerate action on oral health with positive impacts for all populations. To keep our members and networks informed and prepared for action, we launched the first issue of FDI Advocacy Update last week. This quarterly newsletter highlights recent developments in the global advocacy arena as well as current FDI advocacy activities. Each issue contains updates on what’s happening next, opportunities to engage, key events and resources. If you’re not already subscribed, I encourage you to sign up to receive the FDI Advocacy Update.

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President


New resources

This month we have new resources focusing on children’s oral health.

Three articles highlighting the results and next steps of FDI and Unilever’s successful 12-year partnership on Brush Day & Night

Free virtual issue from the International Dental Journal on children’s oral health: Six articles on dental caries prevalence, risk factors and treatment approaches for children


Upcoming travel

FDI European Regional Organization (ERO) Plenary Session
Salzburg, Austria • 13-14 April 2018

FDI Mid-Year Meeting
Coralville, United States • 30 April - 3 May 2018

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