Delivering real results

28 June 2018


President's Letter June 2018 - Delivering real results

FDI President Kathy Kell

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President

As I travelled to Switzerland, China and Japan this month, it was inspiring to witness the many activities and programmes carried out by FDI and its members that are already having an impact on improving global oral health.

Meeting the oral health needs of the elderly

Oral Health for an Ageing Population workshop in Lucerne

I attended a workshop in Lucerne, Switzerland for the Oral Health Ageing Population (OHAP) project, a joint initiative of FDI and GC International. OHAP seeks to develop a fundamental link between dental health practitioners and health longevity, and actively works to improve oral disease prevention and treatment for elderly patients. Members of the OHAP Task Team, FDI staff and GC representatives all participated in this workshop to work on the partnership’s deliverables for 2018.

The workshop focused on finalizing an advocacy document and a roadmap for achieving healthy ageing. The roadmap will serve as a quick reference guide summarizing possible actions and strategies that can be supported and implemented either globally, nationally or locally. These resources will be released during the FDI World Dental Congress (FDI WDC) in Buenos Aires and presented at the World Oral Health Forum.

Sino-Dental 2018

FDI President Dr Kathryn Kell cuts ribbon at Sino-Dental 2018

After Switzerland, I headed to Beijing, China to attend Sino-Dental 2018 (the 23rd China International Dental Exhibition & Scientific Conference). Sino-Dental is now one of the largest trade exhibitions in China and has an international flavour with visitors from all over the world. After the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to open the exhibition, I visited the booths and pavilions where many of our valued corporate partners were exhibitors. The Chinese Stomatological Association (CSA) is one of the organizers of Sino-Dental 2018 and I congratulate CSA and its President Prof. Yu Guangyan on a truly impressive event.

I also had the opportunity to meet with other officers from China’s National and Regional Health Departments to discuss oral health issues in China and abroad. Attending from the National Health Commission were Ms Wang Lili, Vice Director of the Chronic Disease Division from the Chinese Disease Bureau, and Ms Ma Lili, a Senior Programme Official with the Chronic Disease Division who later accompanied us to the Smile Around the World (SAW) project in Shaanxi Province.

Together, we discussed China’s ambitious Healthy China 2030 programme. It was interesting to learn how China follows a stomatological system and that oral health is already integrated into in all health policies in China. An oral health exam is now part of every routine government-mandated health exam for children. This comprehensive policy measure is something that we strongly encourage all countries to emulate.

We also talked about the health policy implications of China revoking its one-child policy. As a result, the country is now expecting a baby boom in the coming years. To prepare for this enormous demographic challenge, China is now focusing on the oral health needs of children by developing an array of programmes that will deliver improved access to dentists alongside evidence-based fluoride and sealant programmes.

Among its existing oral health initiatives, China celebrates Love Your Teeth Day on 20 September. In doing so, CSA develops toolkits, a series of articles on oral health and promotes special events to raise oral health awareness. Despite these efforts, the caries rate for children under 12 remains high so China recognizes that there is more work to do. At the opposite end of the demographic spectrum, China has already developed specific programmes to address the oral health needs of the elderly with a target to increase the average number of teeth for ages 66-74 from 22.5 to 24 teeth over the next 10 years.

Mr Gao Weizhong, Director General of the International Health Exchange and Cooperation Center from the National Health Commission, and Mr Zhang Ilan, Vice Director General of the Commission also attended this meeting and we discussed how to improve the health of a country with such a large population. We had an enlightening exchange of views about the comparative healthcare systems of China and the United States and also shared ideas for improvement in the years ahead.

I was later interviewed by the Chinese media and asked about my impressions of Sino-Dental 2018 and thoughts on how China and the CSA could be more involved with FDI and global oral health. There were also questions about our policy statements, the overall burden of oral disease, and ideas for the FDI WDC in 2020 in Shanghai, China. It was extremely encouraging to see so much media interest in FDI’s leadership role as an advocate for optimal oral health.

Smile Around the World continues to excite

Children in China receiving Smile Around the World care packs

The next day I gave opening remarks at the launch of the Smile Around the World (SAW) project in Weinan, China. While there I met with local officials including Mr Luo Zhenqiang, Director of the Disease Control Bureau for Linwei District in Weinan, Mr Zhang Baodi, Vice Director of the Disease Control Bureau in Shaanxi Province, and Ms Ma Lili again. I also met the Local Project Manager of SAW Dr Liu Xuenan and 3M Business Development Manager, Greater China Area, Mr Charles Sardi.

After our greetings in the auditorium, we toured the Fengyin Elementary School in Weinan. The children all had our materials on good oral health and knew about brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, visiting their dentist, not smoking and healthy nutrition. The highlight of my journey in China was seeing these children and their palpable excitement about our projects. The children all took pictures with us and wrote their names on the banners promoting SAW.

We then visited the Disease Control Bureau for the Linwei District and learned about how they distribute vaccines, what they do for bacterial and viral outbreaks, and how they serve the health of their population in the district. I later met up with Mr Charles Sardi to discuss the remarkable success of SAW in China which is growing from strength to strength thanks to its longstanding partnership with 3M and CAS. SAW aims to raise awareness of oral health in disadvantaged rural and urban communities through engaging cultural and educational activities.

Education and innovation dominates in China

I continued on to the Stomatological Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an and delivered a presentation to its student about FDI’s activities and programmes. The presentation was very well received and resulted in many follow up questions about FDI and best practices for dental clinics. I thanked Vice Deans Profs. Huang Ruizhe and Feng Xi Ping for the opportunity to address the students and later in the evening I had the pleasure of attending a live theatre show “The Legend of the Camel Bells” retracing the Silk Road legend.

At the invitation of General Zhao Yimin, I visited the Air Force Medical University, formerly named the Fourth Military Medical University, to tour its hospital university, and dental museum in Xi’an. General Zhao was the previous Dean and the new Dean is Prof. Deng Zhongrong and Vice Dean is Prof. Zhang Ming. The displays in the museum were of high quality and Dr Per-Ingvar Branemark, the “father of modern dental implantology”, left many of his writings and studies on the development of implants to this museum. The displays range from prehistoric skulls to equipment and supplies throughout dental history as well a chronology of dental history which even included Dr Lucy Hobbs Taylor – the first woman to graduate from a dental college in 1866 who first practiced in my home state of Iowa. I also toured their hospital and research centers and was amazed by all the technological innovations, especially in the field of robotics and cellular biology.

New insights in Tokyo

I arrived late in Tokyo, Japan because of a storm in Beijing and went straight to the home of GC International President Dr Kiyotaka Nakao and his family for a welcome dinner. Joining us were several other members from GC International and the Japanese Dental Association (JDA) including JDA Secretary of International Affairs Dr Keita Kobayashi. The meal was wonderful and the Nakaos and guests were wonderful dinner companions – thank you very much for the warm welcome to Japan.

Next, I toured GC Corporations Headquarters and GC’s Research and Development Centre in Tokyo. The buildings combine space, light and open areas for a workplace conducive to sharing ideas. While at GC International, I learned that GC is also designing products to better meet the needs of patients and there is a special restaurant at the GC Headquarters serving food that is easy to swallow, nourishing and tasty for elderly patients or those with special needs.

President Kathryn Kell visiting JDA in Tokyo

While in Tokyo, I was also so very pleased to see FDI Council Member Prof. Takashi Inoue. Prof. Inoue had just returned from Mongolia teaching physicians about oral pathology and oral health, and shared interesting insights with me from his trip, including access to health care in rural settings. Later he introduced me to two of his graduate students one of whom was Mongolian. We shared ideas about how to reach patients in rural areas where access to reliable oral healthcare is limited. Prof. Inoue and I also had a good chance to catch up on FDI issues after our last meeting together at FDI’s Mid-Year Meeting in Coralville, United States. In particular, we spoke about oral cancer which is rapidly becoming a major public health concern in Asia and discussed FDI’s efforts to scale up our response in this area.

The night before I left Tokyo, I was treated to a wonderful dinner hosted by JDA. I thanked JDA for also organizing visits to the Sensoji Temple and Meiji Shrine and asked to please convey my thanks to JDA President Dr Kenro Hori and the rest of the JDA Membership. This was my first visit to Japan and I left with many fond memories of the place and its people.

Influencing the United Nations Zero Draft on NCDs

The United Nations (UN) has released the UN Zero Draft of the outcome document for the upcoming UN High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). The Zero Draft is the first draft of the outcome document which will outline the next phase of the political response on NCDs.

To ensure that oral health is integrated within NCD prevention and control in the outcome document, FDI together with the International Association for Dental Research has developed a template letter with key recommendations for the zero draft. The template letter is available in English, French, German and Spanish. For any questions contact us at

I urge all National Dental Associations to adapt and send the letter to their government requesting that oral health is addressed in the final outcome document. Member States will start negotiating the zero draft on 29 June until the end of July, so it is critical to share our recommendations and priorities as soon as possible.

Brush Day & Night reaching millions of children worldwide

Twelve years ago, FDI and Unilever Oral Care launched a partnership to raise awareness of oral health globally. Brush Day & Night (BDN) is the third phase (Phase III) of this invaluable partnership which has been implemented in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nigeria, The Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam.

The International Dental Journal has published a supplement with a study analyzing BDN Phase III by looking at 8,000 school children over a 21-day programme. I encourage you to read the supplement to learn more about the project and its findings – the key outcomes and results speak for themselves! BDN is an enormous challenge but by working together we can significantly improve the oral health of millions of children and adults. Over 4 million people were directly reached by the BDN initiative in 2016. I am very excited for what’s ahead!

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President


New resources

This month we have new resources translated into languages other than English to support your activities.

White Paper on Prevention and Management of Periodontal Diseases for Oral Health and General Health
Now available in Spanish

GPHP Practical guide to reduce the global burden of periodontal disease
Now available in Spanish

Caries Prevention Partnerships Chairside Guide
Now available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish



Upcoming travel

Feria Internacional de la Salud Odontotech
Bogotá, Colombia • 3–6 July 2018

International Association for Dental Research General Session
London, United Kingdom • 25–28 July 2018


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