As the World Health Assembly held its seventy-third session virtually on May 18 and 19, the FDI World Dental Federation submitted a statement addressing the role of dentistry in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, FDI noted that civil society organizations such as itself should be part of the solution, and their knowledge should be leveraged.
For example, FDI is now carrying out a global survey to understand the current guidance, initiatives, and resources related to dentistry and oral health during the outbreak. Its data will assist in national level responses to the crisis, inform best practices related to infection prevention and control, and the redeployment of staff and reconfiguration of dental practices.
Second, FDI pointed out that WHO should provide technical guidance for dental practice. As dental procedures may generate a large number of droplets and aerosols, the standard protective measures in daily clinical work aren’t effective enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, FDI said.
Coordinated action to ensure the security of the supply chain of adequate, appropriate, and affordable personal protective equipment, therefore, is urgently needed, FDI said. Scientific investigation also is needed to understand the real risk of aerosols in the dental setting, as well as the role of diagnosis and immunological tests for a safer practice environment, FDI added.
Finally, FDI said that continued access to care should be secured and that health promotion and prevention measures should be strengthened as prevention, early detection, and treatment are key to avoiding an even bigger burden on health systems in the future.
Therefore, FDI said, we must ensure that vulnerable populations get the care they need without further delay to avoid unnecessary pain, suffering, or even early death. This includes:
- People who currently aren’t covered by healthcare systems, particularly refugees and displaced people
- People who are living with disabilities or who have other specific needs
- People who are considered high risk, including the elderly and those living with noncommunicable diseases
At the same time, FDI said, we must use the opportunity to highlight prevention strategies that can avoid people needing treatment at all, preventing a burden on health systems.
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