FDI goes all out for oral health at the 77th World Health Assembly

Read about FDI’s engagement at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.


The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). It brings together WHO Member States, the relevant United Nations agencies and international partners, and non-State actors in official relations with WHO to discuss a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.

The 77th Session of World Health Assembly (WHA77) of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place from the 27 May until 1 June in Geneva, Switzerland with the theme “All for Health, Health for All”. WHA77 discussed about 63 items and subitems including climate and health, antimicrobial resistance, maternal, infant and young child nutrition, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and the draft WHO`s Fourteenth General Programme of Work.

The FDI President, Dr Greg Chadwick participated in this important meeting, reiterating the organizations commitment to ensuring optimal oral health globally.

Universal Health Coverage for oral health

WHA77 discussed progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the declaration of the United Nations General Assembly on UHC adopted in 2023. Governments were reminded that as of 2021, 4.5 billion people lacked access to essential health services and 2 billion people were exposed to catastrophic health expenditure while paying for healthcare out-of-pocket.

In its intervention on this agenda item, the International Association for Dental Oral and Craniofacial Research (IADR), with support from FDI urged WHO Member States to integrate essential oral health services into their UHC benefit packages.

Read the statement on agenda item 11.1 UHC


WHA77 approves the baseline report of the Global Oral Health Action Plan

The WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan (GOHAP) is one of the resulting mechanisms of the landmark Oral Health Resolution adopted at the 74th session of the World Health Assembly in May 2021. It proposes solutions to strengthen national leadership, enhance oral disease prevention, improve oral health workforce capabilities, and scale research.

The Action Plan aligns with FDI's roadmap – Vision 2030: Delivering Optimal Oral Health for All and other urgent civil societies priorities and sets ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030. Following the approval of the Action Plan at the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023, WHO Member States have now approved the baseline report consisting of current status of the global oral health targets. The baseline report notes that 23% of the global population is entitled to essential oral healthcare, only 31% of 194 countries have an operational national oral health policy backed with a dedicated staff for oral health, and 20% of 194 countries have implemented policy measures aiming to reduce free sugars intake.

WHA77 also approved the first-ever cost-effective interventions for oral health which are:

1. to implement a population-wide mass media campaign to promote the use of toothpaste with a fluoride concentration of 1000‒1500 ppm;

2. to apply silver diamine fluoride for arresting dental caries and its progression; and

3. to use glass ionomer cement as a filling material for cavities, after removal of decayed tooth tissue using hand instruments.

While addressing WHA77, FDI, in its statement, stressed the need for governments to develop national oral health action plans aligned with GOHAP, ensure adequate surveillance systems for oral health reporting and implement the evidence-based, cost-effective interventions for oral health.

Check out the GOHAP baseline report (page 5)

Read FDI`s statement on agenda item 11.2 NCDs


Five of the six global nutrition targets are off-track

WHA77 noted the biennial report on the comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The report includes updates on the six global nutrition targets and five actions to be taken to scale up effective priority interventions.

The global targets address stunting among children under-5, anemia in women of reproductive age, low-birth weight, childhood overweight, exclusive breastfeeding and childhood wasting. Sadly, of the six global targets, only the target on breastfeeding, which is to “increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%” is on track to surpass the 2025 target. The report also notes that the global prevalence of childhood obesity has increased slightly.

In a joint statement, FDI and IADR reiterated how childhood obesity increases the risk of poor oral health, adult obesity, and other noncommunicable diseases later in life. They also called on governments to implement comprehensive policies to address excessive free sugar consumption.

Read the full biennial report on nutrition

Read the joint FDI-IADR statement on agenda item 15.2


The role of dentistry in tackling antimicrobial resistance

WHO Member States also discussed the strategic and operational priorities for an accelerated response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the human health sector. These priorities will guide governments to control and reverse the urgent public health and socioeconomic crisis caused by drug-resistant infections in humans.

The strategic priorities are:

  1. prevention of all infections that give rise to the use of antibiotics,
  2. universal access to affordable, quality diagnosis and appropriate treatment of infections.
  3. strategic information, science and innovation – notably surveillance of both antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption/use;
  4. effective governance and financing of the human health sector response to antimicrobial resistance.

The four strategic priorities will be implemented based on a people-centred approach which promotes a root-cause analysis of both “system challenges” and “people’s challenges.” In their joint statement, FDI and IADR highlighted the critical role dentists and robust research can play in the global response to AMR.

Learn more about WHO strategic and operational priorities to address AMR

Read the statement on agenda item 11.8


Oral Health prioritized in WHO`s GPW14

WHO`s General Programme of Work (GPW) describes the agenda for global health and WHO’s priorities and strategic direction for a specified period. It is developed in consultation with member states, experts, and stakeholders, including non-state actors such as FDI for multi-year periods. GPW is also supported by a monitoring framework which measures progress towards its goals and targets and informs reporting on results. Compared to GPW13, GPW14 includes a NEW indicator relevant to oral health, which is the “proportion of population entitled to essential oral health interventions as part of the health benefit packages of the largest government health financing schemes.” This inclusion of oral health within GPW`s monitoring framework will enhance the monitoring of access to essential oral healthcare globally.

WHA77 approved GPW14 and it will be the basis for the strategic direction of planning, prioritization, monitoring and evaluation of WHO’s work during the period 2025–2028. The joint FDI-IADR statement on this agenda item commended governments for prioritizing oral health within GPW14.

Access GPW14

Read the statement on agenda item 17


Events and strategic discussions to amplify oral health

FDI`s delegation met with several strategic partners including:

  1. TIME100 Health 2024 winners and Noma survivors – Ms Mulikat Okanlawon and Mr Fidel Strub;
  2. Ms Katie Dain and Dr Monika Arora, representatives of the NCD Alliance;
  3. WHO`s Oral Health Team, led by Dr Benoit Varenne and the Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food and Safety, Dr Francesco Branca, and
  4. Ireland’s WHA77 delegation, including the Chief Dental Officer, Dr Dympna Kavanagh.

FDI also co-organized several side-events during WHA77 with key partners to further elevate the importance of oral health on the global stage. These events included:

  1. The World Health Professions Alliance’s (WHPA) 25th anniversary, which also marked the launch of the organization’s new strategy.
  2. A High-Level side-event hosted by Ireland and the co-sponsoring countries of Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Canada, and Sri Lanka.
  3. A side-event in collaboration with WHPA member organizations focusing on noncommunicable diseases and the health workforce.

Ahead of WHA77, FDI also participated in a WHO-led briefing session along with panellists from the Ministries of Health of Ireland and Malaysia respectively and the NCD Alliance. The session took place on 14 May, and the recording can be accessed here.

 FDI's active engagement at WHA77 highlights its commitment to keeping oral health at the forefront of global health discussions. By addressing critical health issues and collaborating with international partners, FDI ensures that oral health remains a vital component of the global health agenda.