Celebrating a 10-year partnership with a huge impact on oral health

28 June 2017

This June, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of FDI's long and fruitful partnership with Unilever during a special event held at the Unilever headquarters in London. For my part, June also proved to be a month of opportunities to inform academia in China on FDI and contribute to policy discussion in Italy.

We also finalized reporting on World Oral Health Day 2017 and the outlines of WOHD 2018, and moved forward with FDI projects, most notably the Oral Health Observatory, the Global Periodontal Health Project (GPHP), the Peri-implant disease partnership (PIP) and the ‘Oral health for an ageing population partnership’ (OHAP).

June has also been a period of intense activity as FDI prepares for the World Dental Congress in Madrid. In particular, the office is currently preparing the General Assembly binder. It is an immense task and the size of the final document can prove a deterrent to reading it. Nevertheless, it contains the last twelve months of FDI work and is therefore essential reading for delegates to the General Assembly to prepare their informed comments and questions. I do urge you to become an active participant by acquainting yourself with the binder’s contents.

A 10-year partnership

As we celebrate our ten-year partnership with Unilever, it is worthwhile to remember how important the various partnership projects have been to FDI and to oral health in participating countries. Over the years, it has directly and indirectly touched the lives of millions of children and their families in the participating countries and beyond.

The partnership has also had a huge impact on collaboration with national dental associations, who were key to the success of the projects on the ground. It has set up challenges, all of which have been met. In addition, the partnership has played an important role in raising awareness around World Oral Health Day with novel and innovative ways of marking the event.

I attended the official celebration hosted in London with top executives from Global Oral Care, Unilever, including Marie-Anne Aymerich, Executive Vice-President, Mariano Sampietro, Vice-President, Mark Edwards, Director; Research & Development, and Arathi Rao and Emanuele Cotroneo, Professional Marketing.

Learning about FDI

It was an enormous pleasure to describe the role, activities and significance of FDI for oral health to an audience of leaders of academia in Beijing, on the invitation of the Chinese Stomatological Association. It is essential for the community of universities and dental schools to understand the impact that international cooperation and the positioning oral health within the context of Agenda 2030 and its related Sustainable Development Goals will have on national oral health policy and dental practice.

I had the attention of the academics for the best part of 90 minutes. It gave me opportunity not only to highlight FDI priorities and activities, but also to emphasize a number of issues, notably the definition of oral health and its role in oral health advocacy, the status and purpose of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and FDI contributions to health policy within the World Health Organization. These are also key areas where input from academia can support and strengthen FDI’s positions and strategies.

Priorities for health policies

More recently, at the invitation of the Associazione Italiana Odontoiatri (Italian Association of Odontologists - AIO), I addressed a workshop in Sardinia, which focused on ‘Oral health as a key element in setting priorities in health policies in the Mediterranean Sea area’.

My subject was ‘Prevention and oral care in Africa’, which has been of major concern to me for many years. It was especially appropriate in the light of the discussions during the African Regional Dental Congress in Marrakesh in April. In addition, the event was an opportunity to renew contacts with friends and colleagues at the AIO as the workshop was part of their 9th International Congress, which was held under the theme ‘Focus on quality in dental practice’.

Serious growth

It is now confirmed that we achieved serious growth with our World Oral Health Day 2017 ‘Live Mouth Smart’ campaign: it reached a potential audience of over 600 million people around the world through on-the-ground activities and traditional, online and social media. We are now in the process of finalizing the WOHD 2018 campaign, which will be unveiled in Madrid.

For the GPHP, the Task Team has now agreed on the agenda of this year’s World Oral Health Forum, which will also be an opportunity to get feedback on the white paper currently under preparation. I urge you to respond to the NDA survey on the situation of periodontal health in your country and whether or not solutions are in place, under discussion or not envisaged at all.

Oral Health Observatory

Exchanges are underway with a number of NDAs about participation in the Oral Health Observatory and some NDAs are in the process of launching the recruitment of between 20 and 70 dental practices to be involved, according to country. The app has now been finalized and will be on display in Madrid.

A recent meeting of PIDP experts from FDI and project partner the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI) finalized the agenda of a workshop to take place in May 2018; agenda items will be presented at a session in Madrid. The focus of the PIDP is to answer questions of concern raised by practitioners during the course of their work.

For OHAP, the Task Team has met to develop a list of key deliverables, and decide on an action plan for 2017-2018. A big thank you to the 74 NDAs who responded to our survey on the status of national strategies on oral health for ageing populations. The aim is to use the information to develop a global framework for action.

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