23.03.16 - Working with our members to increase awareness of oral health

15 April 2016
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Working with our members to increase awareness for oral health issues

FDI President Dr Patrick Hescot

Since my last letter, the work schedule has been packed, with World Oral Health Day 2016 and my own celebrations at two events in Indonesia and Vietnam. It also included an earlier trip to Chicago for executive meetings and our traditional get-together with our friends from the American Dental Association (ADA). Furthermore, I had the opportunity to address health policy makers in Warsaw at the senate of the Polish Republic and participated in the launch of the Spanish edition of the Oral Health Atlas with the Spanish Dental Association, in Madrid.


World Oral Health Day 2016

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) was celebrated on March 20 and the initial results are very promising, showing that the campaign is having an increasing impact globally. A full campaign evaluation is underway and I will share the results with you in due course. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all FDI member associations who organized activities, as well as our industry partners and other stakeholders who helped raise awareness around the theme of 'Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body' and bought us one step closer to our vision of 'Leading the World to Optimal Oral Health'.

This year, we used a slightly different campaign approach from what we are used to: in fact, we unveiled key campaign assets — I am speaking in particular about the excellent video and entertaining smartphone game available on Apple and Android devices — only a few days in advance. The aim was to ensure maximum impact, especially over social media and learn from last year's campaign which showed a peak of activity at this time that could be leveraged to have a higher level of engagement overall. As for the local events, first reports show how diverse and original they were and I look forward to seeing all the activities once they have been collated.

Special thanks go to our international sponsors Philips Sonicare, the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme, Henry Schein Inc. and Unilever. It is through their support that we can match our actions with our ambition to raise awareness worldwide about oral health and its impact on general health. 'Healthy Mouth. Healthy Body.'

Celebrating WOHD in Southeast Asia

I addressed two World Oral Health Day events, one in Jakarta on 18 March and one in Vietnam on 20 March, both organized by our national dental associations in collaboration with Unilever/P/S. These now traditional events in South East Asia target families and are extremely important in the FDI calendar. This is because they generally take place in the presence of representatives from the Ministry of Health and other Ministries and are thus unique occasions to raise the profile of oral health within the highest levels of government.

A big thank you to my hosts, Persatuan Guru Diniyah Indonesia (PDGI - Indonesian Dental Association) and the Vietnam Odonto-Stomatology Association (VOSA): it was a real pleasure and a privilege to join in your WOHD celebrations. I was also happy to be working once again with our international sponsor Unilever and their local team at Pepsodent (Indonesia) and P/S (Vietnam). They have been instrumental in supporting FDI goals in oral health promotion and oral disease prevention for over a decade.

Our friends in Chicago

In late February, it was a pleasure to be in a position to present an upbeat assessment of FDI’s work and performance over the previous twelve months to our friends at the American Dental Association (ADA). This year I was able to report a healthy financial surplus and comfortable reserves, as well as exemplary progress in two areas of the three-point FDI 2014-2017 strategy: membership and leadership.

In addition, I reported major steps forward in FDI partnerships—the Caries Prevention Partnership (Colgate), Smiles Around the World (Ivoclar-Vivadent), Brush Day & Night (Unilever) and 'Oral Health for an Ageing Population' (GC Corporation)—the great success of the 2016 Strategy for Africa workshop as well as headway in other fields such as Quality in Dentistry.

I was also able to inform my ADA audience that FDI is now addressing the third area of its strategy, which focuses on communication, with the creation of an integrated advocacy and communications department. This will position it well to meet the increasing demand for well-structured communications to members and the general public as well as the challenges of full-scale participation in the international health agenda.

There were also meetings of FDI Executive Committee, Governance Task Team and the Finance Committee in Chicago. The positive evaluation for 2016 by the Finance Committee means that FDI can go ahead in accordance with the activities and budget adopted by the General Assembly in Bangkok.

Addressing policy makers

It is rare to be in a position to make a direct address to an audience of policy makers and medical practitioners so I was happy to seize the chance offered in early March to present FDI's perspective at a conference at the Polish senate. The subject was 'The level of public trust for the professions of physician and dentist'.

I stressed the major socio-economic role of the dentist and outlined a number of areas of cooperation between the dental profession and government as a means of cementing the public's trust. These included oral health and ageing populations, public health campaigns such as WOHD and in policy measures for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

Spanish launch of the Oral Health Atlas

In an exciting development in March, FDI released the Oral Health Atlas in Spanish during a press event organized in Madrid by our colleagues at the Consejo General de Dentistas de España (CGDE - Spanish Dental Association).

In my address to members of the media, I provided an international perspective. CGDE President Oscar Castro and Secretary General Juan Carlos Llodra presented and compared global oral-health findings taken from the Atlas within the current context of oral health and dentistry in Spain.

Both the Spanish and French versions are now available for download from the FDI website. I would like to thank all those in Spain and France who participated in the translation and review of the two versions.

For more FDI News, visit www.fdiworldental.org
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