FDI calls for oral health to be addressed in the Zero Draft of the UN HLM on NCDs

29 June 2018 Policy

The United Nations (UN) has released the Zero Draft of the outcome document for the upcoming UN High-level Meeting (HLM) on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). The process of developing the outcome document for the 2018 HLM on NCDs starts with a “Zero Draft” that involves several iterations with input gathered from Member States and other key stakeholders.

The Zero Draft will serve as the basis for negotiations on an outcome document. As the outcome document will set out the next phase of the political response on NCDs, it is vital that oral health commitments are secured within the document itself.

In its current form, however, the Zero Draft fails to adequately address oral health within the context of NCD prevention and control. It is also difficult to integrate oral health perspectives into the Zero Draft because of its weak language. Mental health is featured in the document but other NCD groups are ignored. Disappointingly, none of the World Health Organization Best Buys are referenced and sugar is not included in the context of any fiscal measures or regulations.

After analyzing the Zero Draft, FDI has identified three key recommendations for inclusion into the outcome document:

  1. Recognition of oral diseases;
  2. Accountability and monitoring mechanisms for NCD and oral disease commitments; and
  3. Increased investment for NCD prevention and control, including oral diseases.

Together with these recommendations, FDI developed a template letter for its members that is co-signed by the International Association for Dental Research. The letter explains the above recommendations and features an in-depth table that comprehensively outlines the proposed changes to the Zero Draft.

Last week, FDI urged its members to send the template letter to their country’s Head of Government and State, Minister of Health, Permanent Mission in New York and Geneva, Chief Dental Officer or any other individual who can influence government policy in their country.

FDI also recently participated in the NCD Alliance’s call for comments on the Zero Draft. In doing so, FDI was able to secure the inclusion of oral diseases and fiscal policies for sugar into the NCD Alliance’s proposed outcome document for the HLM.

This month is critical for elevating oral health on the global NCD agenda. Member States will enter closed, informal negotiations on the outcome document from 29 June until probably the end of July. To that end, the UN Civil Society Hearing on 5 July in New York, which FDI will attend, also represents an important opportunity to reiterate oral health priorities for the outcome document ahead of the UN HLM on NCDs on 28 September.

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