Working together to improve oral health

26 June 2019


Dr Kell participating in panel discussion

FDI President Kathy Kell

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President

We are in the middle of 2019 and I am already in awe of the significant progress made in improving oral health thanks to our members’ tireless efforts.

Influencing oral health policies

I was very excited about my jam-packed agenda in Bulgaria for the 19th Scientific Congress of the Bulgarian Dental Association (BgDA).

Before heading to the congress, I was in Sofia where I visited the Medical University of Sofia and met with Prof. Andon Filchev, dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine, for a tour of the clinics and lecture halls. I was very impressed by the unique and interesting Museum of Dental Medicine at the university that started in 2013. It showcases dental equipment through the various ages and an amazing collection of skulls from animals, people, and ancient peoples. I also met with the BgDA leadership, including Dr Nick Sharkov, BgDA president and FDI Council member, and the Managing Board of the Sofia Regional Body of the BgDA.

Dr Kell at 19th Scientific Congress of the BgDA

While in Sofia, I was interviewed on the popular show 24 Hours about oral health care. I was honoured to meet with Minister of Health for Bulgaria Mr Kiril Ananiev and Deputy Minister of Health for Bulgaria Ms Zheni Necheva, who are very knowledgeable about oral health thanks to their good relationship with the BgDA. During our meeting, we also spoke at length about the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Bulgarian government has recently ratified the Convention, but still require advice and support with its implementation. I was very pleased to hear about the success of Bulgaria’s National Oral Health Prevention Programme for Children. In 2007, FDI President Michele Aerden visited Bulgaria to encourage the development of this programme for children with the BgDA and their government. Since its inception in 2009 over 700 Bulgarian dentists have volunteered to help examine and treat over 140,000 children across the country. This is a fantastic initiative and shows that together we can make a difference! I continued the conversation of oral health with two very powerful women in the 44th Bulgarian National Assembly – Mrs Tsveta Karayancheva, president of the 44th Bulgarian National Assembly, and Dr Daniela Daritkova, chairperson of the Assembly’s Healthcare Committee and a paediatrician.

I then left for Pomorie for another TV appearance and the BgDA congress. On my second TV interview in Bulgaria, I discussed oral health and the two biggest barriers to patients seeking oral health care: fear and expense. With modern oral health care I emphasized there is little need for fear and I spoke about the importance of Universal Health Coverage. Bulgaria’s national health policies are making oral health care more accessible and affordable for its citizens. At the congress, I gave a presentation about FDI to the BgDA Managing Board and attended the Opening Ceremony where I presented Dr Nick Sharkov with a plaque of appreciation from FDI for BgDA’s membership. It was great to see several other FDI members from surrounding countries at this congress.

Ciao from Italy!

My sojourn in Europe continued with a trip to Sardinia for the 10th International Congress of the Italian Dental Association (Associazione Italiana Odontoatri - AIO) in beautiful Chia.

I was very pleased to participate in the Opening Ceremony of the congress. After presenting on FDI’s projects and upcoming events, I then took part in an interactive panel discussion on oral health that included many local and international speakers. It was a great pleasure for me to award a plaque of appreciation to AIO President Dr Fausto Fiorile, on behalf of FDI for AIO’s membership.

The congress was also an opportunity to network and catch up – in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Exhibit Hall I met up with many other FDI members in attendance. We then celebrated the end of a fruitful meeting with good friends and colleagues at the Gala Dinner. My next stop after Sardinia was the 97th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, which will be featured in my next Letter from the President in July.

We want to hear from you: GPHP survey

I strongly encourage you to take part in a quick online survey for FDI’s Global Periodontal Health Project (GPHP). We are seeking your valuable feedback in order to evaluate and improve the GPHP Chairside Guide. The survey closes on 31 July and is available in English, Spanish, French and German.

Dr Kathryn Kell

FDI President


New resources

Help support your conversations with policymakers about the importance of integrating oral health into Universal Health Coverage.



Upcoming travel

International Women’s Forum at the 15th International Congress of the Georgian Dental Association
5—6 July 2019 • Batumi, Georgia

ADA FDI World Dental Congress
4—8 September 2019 • San Francisco, United States


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