March is always an exciting time at FDI

29 March 2017

March is always an exciting period for new initiatives at FDI - increasingly so since 2013, when we began celebrating World Oral Health Day (WOHD) on 20 March. Early results from our Live Mouth Smart campaign in 2017 are very encouraging, showing that the reach of our awareness raising efforts is growing. I was also so pleased to be the first FDI President to celebrate WOHD in Africa.

The 2016 General Assembly in Poznań approved the establishment of the Latin American Regional Organization, and its first exploratory meeting took place in March. The month also provided an occasion to strengthen ties with our member the Israel Dental Association, as well as new opportunities to reinforce current partnerships and create new contacts during the International Dental Show (IDS) in Cologne, the world’s biggest dental exhibition.

Intense activity on World Oral Health Day 2017

Today, WOHD has become an exceptional opportunity to stress the contribution of oral health to quality of life as well as highlight the impact of poor oral health on general health and well-being. This year, our Live Mouth Smart campaign encountered intense activity and widespread support over social media, and numerous, exciting and original events took place on all continents. The 2017 film, ‘Have you ever thought about how your mouth affects your life’ was projected 230 times on the NASDAQ screen and shared with enthusiasm over Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I spent the day in Abidjan at a truly exceptional WOHD event organized by FDI Member l’Association des Odonto-Stomatologistes de Côte d'Ivoire (A.O.S.C.I.) and partner Unilever, involving some 1600 schoolchildren brushing their teeth. I also had the privilege of seeing first-hand studies underway at the Abidjan Côte d’lvoire University School of Dentistry University as well as discussing developments in oral health policy in Africa and Côte d’Ivoire at the Ministry of Public Health and Hygiene.

Regional policy

Our regional policy took a huge step forward with the first meeting of the newly-created Latin American Regional Organization, held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on 11 and 12 March. I chaired the event, with President-elect Dr Kathy Kell and delegates Dr María Fernanda Atuesta (Colombia), Dr Lupe Salazar Zurita (Panama), Dr Guillermo Rivero and Dr Hugo Zamora (Confederación Odontológica de la República Argentina), Dr Rafael Porras (Costa Rica), Dr María Eugenia Valle (Colegio de Cirujano Dentistas de Chile), Dr Ismael Espinoza (Ecuador), Dr Enrique Laxagues (Uruguay) and Dr Carlos Jimenez (Bolivia). The rapporteur and present at the meeting from FDI Head Office was Director of Governance and Membership, Djerdana (Gina) Ivosevic.

Day one of the meeting was an opportunity for all participants to get to know each other and featured presentations by FDI, LARO and its individual member National Dental Associations. Day two was more about the fine print and focused on constitutional and FDI-LARO communication matters, as well as projects and activities.

We had some very positive discussions and the hope is that we can now move forward with our ambitious plans for Latin America. This is especially relevant, given that our World Dental Congress in 2018 will be taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and could provide a further opportunity to move the process forward and engage current and, hopefully, new members in the Latin American region.

NDA in Israel

I spent some time in Israel in mid-March following a kind invitation from Dr Shlomo Zusman, expert in Public Health, Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about Israel’s current health priorities and an occasion for me to emphasize the importance of prioritizing oral health within the context of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

During my trip, I was also deeply impressed by the cutting-edge facilities at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem and the Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine in Tel-Aviv.

It was also a real pleasure for me to catch up with news from Dr Itzak Chen and Dr Haim Neuman, respectively President and National Liaison Officer of the Israel Dental Association (IDA), and discuss how we can develop our cooperation and jointly further the cause of oral health in Israel.

FDI and the dental industry

FDI has always maintained close ties with the dental industry and, in the field of dental materials, relations go back to the early 1950s. Visiting the International Dental Show in Cologne, the world’s biggest dental industry event, was a real eye opener on how far we have come in patient comfort, care and safety, in terms of installations, equipment, materials and products. It is also a reminder of the costs and risks the new dentist encounters setting up his or her practice.

For me, it was an opportunity to catch up with FDI long-term friends, partnered in various ventures and projects, including: GC Corporation, partner in ‘Oral Health for an Ageing Population’, the International Congress on Oral Implants (ICOI), FDI’s partner in the Peri-implant Disease Project, and Philips, one of our partners in World Oral Health Day, as well as Ivoclar-Vivadent and Planmeca, both partners in Vision 2020. Future potential partners I spoke to include Septodont and Dentsply Sirona.

It was also a pleasure to meet our partners and other representatives during a reception on the FDI booth. Furthermore, I spent some time in discussion with my good friend and colleague, Dr Peter Engel, President of the German National Dental Association, the Bundeszahnärztekammer (BZAEK), who was naturally present in Cologne at IDS. I In addition, I very much appreciated attending the General Assembly of International Dental Manufacturers (IDM) and learning more about the industry’s current concerns and priorities.

Henry Schein, a partner in both World Oral Health Day and Vision 2020, was very much present as friend and partner of FDI. In particular, I had a conversation with Stan Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO partner Henry Schein, Inc., about the new definition of oral health, within the context of #ScheinChats, the company’s signature social media series.

I would also like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming the 3M Company as the latest partner in Vision 2020 and commend them for supporting our work in oral health advocacy.

FDI Madrid 2017

In closing, I’d also like to thank the Japanese Dental Association for their special efforts to engage their members to participate in the FDI World Dental Congress in Madrid through editorials in their association news magazine. At their request, I also wrote a special message inviting their members to Madrid, highlighting the unique nature of the FDI congress and its top-quality continuing education, as well as the opportunities for sightseeing in the city and in Spain in general.

If other member associations are keen to increase their national participation at FDI Madrid 2017 and feel that a special message from the FDI president would provide encouragement, please let me know. I will gladly oblige.

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