Strengthening the capacity of oral health leaders in Africa
FDI has successfully concluded a four-day Leadership Training Workshop for 20 Africa-based national dental associations, with a focus on communication, advocacy and fundraising.
The Workshop, held in Geneva from 15 to 18 February, was the second in a series aimed at helping build capacity and ensuring participants acquired key skills to make them stronger oral health advocates in their home countries.
In his closing remarks, FDI President Dr Patrick Hescot called the Workshop, “a truly exceptional event” and commended the participants for their enthusiasm to learn and passion to apply the skills in their national health settings.
“I am delighted with the quality and success of this Workshop, and its huge impact on cooperation with FDI and between NDAs. Our Strategy for Africa is providing real impetus to oral health policy and promotion on the African continent,” said Dr Hescot. “Now everything is in place for a true oral health strategy in Africa in view of the first African Regional Congress in Morocco in 2017.”
The Workshop assembled participants from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The training sessions were in English with simultaneous translation into French.
Engaging with the World Health Organization
Dr Benoit Varenne (Regional Adviser, Oral Health, Non-Communicable Diseases Cluster, WHO Regional Office for Africa), presented WHO commitments to oral health during day three of the Workshop, which focused on advocacy. He highlighted how NDAs could get involved with WHO activities and engage with their local minsters of health and Chief Dental Officers to ensure their voice was heard when local policies were being formulated and what they could do to influence the process and aid in their implementation.
In 2016, WHO will release two key publications of relevance to the Africa region:
- Promoting Oral Health in Africa manual – to be released in May in Niger. It covers: oral disease burden and risk factors; integrating oral disease within non-communicable disease strategies and primary health- care level; the basic package of oral care; essential intervention protocols for primary health-care facilities; school based oral health promotion; community based oral health promotion and disease prevention; monitoring and evaluation
- Regional oral health strategy 2016-2021 – to be released in August in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa). The strategy is focused around four objectives and includes voluntary oral health targets that member states should try to monitor:
- Objective 1: Strengthening national advocacy, leadership, multi-sectoral action and partnerships for integrated prevention and control of oral diseases
- Objective 2: Reducing common risk factors of oral diseases and NCDs, promoting oral and general health and ensuring regular and general use of appropriate fluorides
- Objective 3: Strengthening health system capacity for integrated prevention and control of oral diseases
- Objective 4: Improving integrated surveillance of oral diseases, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and operational research
The publications are great advocacy resources for the region. Dr Varenne encouraged NDAs to contact their health ministry coordinator to ascertain how they could: 1) get involved in their roll out; 2) help in the preparation of the August launch of the oral health strategy and potentially be part of their country’s delegation at this meeting. FDI will share updates and links to the publications when they are available.
FDI Leadership Training
The Workshop is a level 2 event in FDI’s Strategy for Africa and is the second in a planned series of Leadership Training events. The first, a level 1 event, was held in Geneva from 2 to 4 February 2015.
The Workshop concluded with participants signing a pledge where they committed to take action around the Minamata Convention on Mercury, specifically to:
- Communicate benefits about the Convention;
- Brainstorm within their NDA to provide a legal or policy framework to address the challenge of phasing- down dental amalgam;
- Undertake continuing professional development (CPD) on best practices and management of amalgam.
The FDI Strategy for Africa enacts its commitment to empowering Africa-based NDAs to further the cause of oral health on the African continent. It does so by helping them acquire and develop leadership and management skills, establishing and reinforcing their credibility and supporting their effective peer-to-peer exchange of information.