Making new connections

30 May 2018


Dr Kathryn Kell and FDI Council members

FDI President Kathy Kell

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President

Each time I travel to a new place, I am always impressed by our members’ commitment and dedication to FDI’s mission and values. FDI’s oral health family is always a constant source of pride and inspiration.

Midwest bound

FDI’s Mid-Year meeting brought its Council and Committee members to the cornfields of Iowa, United States where the Iowa Dental Association (IDA) was concurrently celebrating its 156th Annual Session. We were delighted to have IDA President Dr Richard Bokemper open our plenary session and provide us with some interesting facts about Iowa and its diverse dental history. In fact, Iowa was the home of America’s first female dentist who graduated from a dental college. She was elected to the Iowa State Dental Society leading to her acceptance at a dental college in 1866.

During the meeting, FDI Council and Committees convened, shared reports, and aligned activities with the new FDI Strategic Plan which was approved by the General Assembly (GA) in Madrid last September. Membership, advocacy and knowledge transfer are the strategic plan’s three key pillars and we are committed to delivering on each front.

The Mid-Year meeting was an important opportunity to evaluate progress made by FDI and review ongoing and new projects for next year. I am pleased to report that membership continues to be very strong – with new applications for membership reviewed and ready for GA approval. Our advocacy efforts are increasing too, especially in the lead up to the 2018 United Nations High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases in September, and great strides have been made in developing a landmark set of adult oral health measures.

We also toured the University of Iowa College of Dentistry at the invitation of its Dean, Dr David Johnsen. The tour was followed by a reception with entertainment at the new Hancher Auditorium designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli. The final event consisted of a joint dinner hosted by IDA at the Rapid Creek Cidery with short greetings from Dr Bokemper, United States Congressman David Loebsack, American Dental Association President-Elect Jeffrey Cole and Trustee Kenneth McDougall.

A big thank you to Dr Bokemper and IDA for inviting us to hold our Mid-Year meeting in Iowa – your Midwestern hospitality certainly went above and beyond our expectations.

Dental R&D at the forefront in Manila

President Kathryn Kell at APDC in Manila

After a productive meeting in Iowa, I travelled to Manila, Philippines for the 40th Asia Pacific Dental Congress (APDC) organized by FDI’s Asia Pacific Dental Federation (APDF)/Asia Pacific Regional Organization (APRO) and the Philippine Dental Association (PDA). The congress focused on the scientific research and technical developments that are changing the landscape of modern dentistry. I also attended the 109th PDA Annual Convention & Scientific Meeting which was held at the same time as APDC.

Asia-Pacific is FDI’s largest region and has a strong track record of providing excellent educational opportunities for its members as well as opportunities for leadership development and strategic projects that contribute to the advancement of oral health in the region. While at the Congress, I addressed both the Council and the Delegates Meeting of APDF/APRO and thanked Dr Cristina Antonio for all she had done during her year as APDF/APRO President. I congratulated Dr Fernando ‘Andy’ Fernandez from the Philippines as the newly installed APDF/APRO President. I also thanked APDF/APRO Secretary General Dr Oliver Hennedige for his years of service. Later, I gave greetings from FDI at APDC’s outstanding Opening Ceremony which featured the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the 2015 winner of Asia’s Got Talent El Gamma Penumbra.

Thank you again to PDA President Dr Mark Villalobos and PDA President-Elect and General Chair of the 109th PDA Meeting Dr Arleen Reyes for all your wonderful hospitality and for hosting a truly impressive event.

Celebrating new dental graduates

New dental graduates at Temple Universit

Following my trip to Manila, I recrossed the Pacific to Philadelphia, United States where I delivered a keynote speech at the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University to the graduating class of 2018 at the invitation of the School’s Dean Dr Amid Ismail. It was a great honour to speak to Temple’s graduates and equally it was a delight to also see FDI Member Liaison and Support Committee Chair Dr Duygu Ilhan as a ceremony participant and FDI Council Member Dr Kathy Roth in attendance.

Congratulations to the 2018 dental graduates of Temple! Over 1,000 students graduated, and it was truly a family affair. Families were cheering as the new graduates received their diplomas and even family members who were fellow dentists came on stage with the graduates. It was wonderful to see how dentists are so proud of their profession that they actively encourage and inspire children and relatives to become dentists too.

Temple serves an area of Philadelphia that has a great need for oral healthcare, and the diversity of the students and the faculty contribute to better communication and understanding of the healthcare problems facing the residents of that area. While at Temple, I was also privileged to tour the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry – one of the oldest dental schools in the United States. The school has recently renovated many classrooms, clinics and student areas. It very was interesting to see the many improvements made to this beautiful building, which will no doubt be a great benefit to future dental students.

First Armenian-American Congress of Dentists

President Kathryn Kell and President-elect Gerhard Seeberger in Armenia

My final stop in May was Yerevan, Armenia for the first Armenian-American Congress of Dentists organized by the Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU) and the Armenian Dental Association (ADA). Dr Lazar Yessayan, ADA President, Dean of the Faculty of Stomatology of YSMU, and Chief Dental Officer of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, met me at the airport with other members and we went that morning to the Opening Ceremony where I gave greetings from FDI to our fellow ADA members. This was a very interesting congress as it was an international congress that included many speakers who had roots in Armenia and they were very pleased to come for the first time or return again to experience Armenia.

I also attended a very moving ceremony at the Armenian Genocide Memorial where congress participants laid flowers and where FDI’s European Regional Organization had planted a tree in remembrance a few years earlier. FDI President-Elect Dr Gerhard Seeberger attended the memorial along with all the other events.

Dr Yessayan gave us a tour of his private clinic and learning clinic, which followed with a visit to a memorial honouring his parents, Drs Karlen and Sara Yessayan, for their contribution to the health and education of the Armenian people. We then visited the memorial in St. Astvatsatsin Church for Fridtjof Nansen (a Norwegian arctic explorer, ambassador, and Nobel Prize laureate) who rescued Armenian refugees during the genocide.

The congress attendees later toured the YSMU College of Somatology and attended the opening of the university’s Simulation Clinic and newly remodelled classrooms at the school. Everything was state of the art and the incoming students will receive an excellent education in the new facility. During the ceremony, I also received the prestigious Medal of Honour from the YSMU Rector Armen Muradyan and many others received awards for their participation in the congress.

The culture of Armenia, its rich history and stunning sites, great food, and entertainment were fantastic, but the most memorable experiences were those I had with the kind, warm-hearted Armenian dentists that I met at the congress. Thank you, Dr Yessayan and the ADA members for providing me with such a wonderful welcome.

Improving oral health for the ageing population


As the worldwide population ages, countries will face significant challenges in meeting the healthcare needs of an older population. Because older people have very different oral health needs to children and younger adults, it is vital that countries recognize this and improve oral disease prevention and treatment strategies.

To ensure that oral health challenges are addressed in broader disease policies for ageing populations, FDI and GC International AG established a joint initiative – Oral Health for an Ageing Population (OHAP). The OHAP will hold a workshop from 31 May to 2 June in Lucerne, Switzerland to finalize its advocacy strategy and roadmap. The workshop will present strategies and practical actions to improve the oral health of ageing populations. These two documents will be released during the World Oral Health Forum at the FDI World Dental Congress in September 2018.

I look forward to attending this workshop – I am sure it will result in new and innovative strategies which contribute to improving oral health outcomes for ageing populations.

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President


Upcoming travel

FDI & GC International Oral Health for an Ageing Population Workshop
Luzern, Switzerland • 31 May-2 June 2018

Sino-Dental Congress
Beijing, China • 9-12 June 2018


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