Building blocks for oral health strategy
Creating the building blocks for oral health strategy is a question of meeting and discussing issues of concern with local dental associations. This was my aim in meetings in Lebanon and Senegal in early and mid-October. The first took me to Beirut on 8 October.
There I had the opportunity to meet and exchange views with presidents from dental associations in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen as well as from the Palestinian Dental Association and the Union of Palestinian Dentists in Lebanon.
In particular, I was able to outline various areas where we might work together in the future to re-position the dentist and oral health at the heart of general health within the context of the WHO definition “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Notably, I enumerated the key areas where FDI can provide support, i.e. in setting up prevention programmes, targeting groups at risk (children, adolescents, adults, the elderly); developing quality assurance in the dental practice, in particular continuing education programmes; creating an advocacy programme to promote dental health and the role of the national dental association and the dentist; and undertaking population-wide communication through the development of World Oral Health Day.
I am confident that this same group will find a way to pursue this dialogue, hopefully through an exploratory workshop in the first half of 2016.
Consolidating the FDI Strategy for Africa
Just over a week later I was in Dakar, Senegal, to for two days of meetings with Presidents from nine National Dental Associations; Benin, Botswana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It was an opportunity for participants to share experience and update each other on the status of national projects underway within the context of FDI’s Strategy for Africa and, where necessary, resolve outstanding issues.
For my part, I informed the group about the services that FDI can provide in support of NDA activities to ensure their success. I stressed the importance on the quality of the project and better understanding the perspective of the project funder. They should not, I emphasized, hesitate to propose a pilot project where a full-scale project is not feasible. I also outlined plans to set up as soon as possible a second training session in Geneva, with a focus on communication, fundraising and advocacy.
Our group also had the opportunity of meeting with the Senegal Minister of Health, Professor Awa Marie Coll Seck, in support of the school oral health prevention initiative by the Senegal National Dental Association, l’Association Nationale des Chirurgiens-Dentistes Sénégalais (A.N.C.D.S).
These meetings, held alongside the International Dental Exhibition Africa (IDEA, 17 to 19 October 2015), demonstrate once again the commitment of FDI leadership and members to the African continent and the consolidation of our Federation’s strategy for NDA capacity-building.