When the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board conducted its 142nd session in Geneva in January, representatives from the FDI World Dental Federation were on hand to address three key items on the agenda: the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); maternal, infant, and young child nutrition; and the use of digital applications or mHealth to enhance public health outcomes.
First, FDI encouraged WHO’s member states to work with their respective national dental associations to deliver strategic interventions that will reduce overall sugar consumption, as dental caries is the most common NCD in the world. However, there are no current baselines or indicators for oral health. FDI is developing a measurement tool to address this need and will share its results with WHO. Also, FDI reminded the meeting that oral diseases and other NCDs share modifiable risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, diet, and socioeconomic factors.
Next, FDI noted that dental caries also is the most common chronic childhood disease globally and encouraged more governments to adopt sugar taxes and consult with their national dental associations in formulating sustainable policy responses. And while FDI also commended WHO for developing a manual for its member states to end the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children, it noted that this manual omitted how early childhood caries is caused by frequent and prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugar.
Finally, FDI addressed its support of mHealth to supplement the deficit of 18 million healthcare professionals expected by 2030. However, FDI said that mHealth’s success ultimately will depend on the quality of care delivered by healthcare professionals. Countries implementing mHealth strategies, then, must support the education and training needs of their healthcare professionals. FDI further affirmed its commitment to supporting member states as they integrate mHealth into their healthcare systems.