Updated WHO Director-General report on Oral health includes clefts and community-based fluoridation programmes

Following discussions at the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board and its resolution on Oral health, WHO’s Director-General report on Oral health has been updated to include mention of orofacial clefts and community-based fluoridation programmes.

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Copyright World Health Organization

In January 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board approved at its 148th session what WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus called a “landmark resolution” on Oral health. This resolution led by Sri Lanka stresses the worrying burden and human and economic cost of oral diseases, while providing concrete follow-up actions for both Members States and WHO to tackle poor oral health at the country and global levels with a focus on prevention, multisectoral action, and integration into the universal health coverage and noncommunicable disease agendas.

The resolution was remarkably co-sponsored by 40 Member States from all WHO regions, and it received unanimous support from other Member States across their statements at the Executive Board session. FDI strongly welcomed and supports this game-changing resolution that should be formally approved at the 74thsession of the World Health Assembly (WHA74), taking place from 24 May to 1 June 2021.

In light of this, WHO recently updated the report by the Director-General on Oral health for WHA74 to incorporate comments received during the Executive Board debate. The FDI statement called for the recognition of the impact of cleft lip and palate in the oral health response and the importance of community-based fluoridation programmes, among other points. The report now mentions the burden of orofacial clefts as the most common craniofacial birth defect, as well as access to prevention through “community-based interventions such as water fluoridation, where technically feasible and culturally acceptable.”

What’s next?

We encourage our member national dental associations to call on their Member States to further support the upcoming WHA74 resolution on Oral health for adoption in May 2021, and to promote a comprehensive implementation of the commitments at the national level to improve people’s oral health and overall health outcomes.

Vision 2030: Delivering Optimal Oral Health for All (now available in four languages)

To coincide with these developments, FDI released Vision 2030: Delivering Optimal Oral Health for All, a roadmap report that aims to provide comprehensive guidance for an inter-disciplinary response to oral diseases over the next decade, tackling increasing oral health inequalities. The report is now available in English, French, Spanish, and German.

We believe the report will be instrumental to WHO, Member States and national dental associations in the implementation of the upcoming WHA74 resolution on Oral health.

Have you read the report? Let us know what you think at advocacy@fdiworlddental.org.