NYU to Host Event Connecting Oral Health to Universal Healthcare

Dentistry Today


Together with The Lancet, the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Quality-Improvement Evidence-Based Dentistry will host Leaving No One Behind: Integrating Universal Health Coverage and Essential Oral Health Care for All on Sunday, September 22, to alert the global health community to the largely ignored challenges of oral health worldwide and to call for dental care to be included in commitments to universal health coverage.

In July, The Lancet’s Series on Oral Health discussed why oral health has been neglected and advocated for radical public health action.

“The Lancet Series on Oral Health is a milestone for the global oral health community. By calling attention to oral health, The Lancet has created visibility and urgency for a long neglected crisis in global public health,” said Richard Niederman, chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry and director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Quality-Improvement Evidence-Based Dentistry. 

“Our event aims to send a strong message to the global health community that oral healthcare should no longer be isolated from mainstream healthcare, and we need fundamental change to integrate the two. The global momentum towards universal health coverage provides a unique opportunity for these reforms,” said Habib Benzian, research professor at NYU’s Colleges of Dentistry and Global Public Health.

“The Sustainable Development Goals call for universal health coverage, which must include access to basic oral healthcare and prevention for all. Countries like Thailand, France, Brazil have made bold efforts to integrate dental care into universal healthcare, demonstrating that major reforms are possible and can benefit oral health,” said Benzian, who also is associate director of global health and policy for the WHO Collaborating Center. 

“The Lancet Series on Oral Health has proven to be a much welcomed and much needed wakeup call. Oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, yet despite presenting such a major public health burden, the series found that oral health has been largely ignored by the global health community,” said Jocalyn Clark, executive editor for The Lancet.

“We know that the burden of oral disease is set to grow, as more people are exposed to the underlying risk factors, including sugar, tobacco, and alcohol. It’s time now for the dental care and global health communities to come together and take action to radically reform oral healthcare, tighten regulation of the sugar industry, and provide greater transparency on conflict of interests in dental research,” said Clark.

The event will include three parts: 

  • The global oral health challenges: Experts, coauthors, and editors of the Lancet series will provide an overview of the challenges of oral diseases existing globally, the limitations of the current health systems, and the need to consider essential oral healthcare and prevention as integral to the universal health coverage agenda. Policy ideas for interventions and actions will be discussed.
  • Experienced and innovations in universal health coverage and oral health: Representatives and experts of selected United Nations member states will showcase innovative approaches to ensuring universal access to essential oral healthcare and prevention.
  • Partnerships and collaboration to accelerate progress: Panelists representing different sectors and organizations will explore the need, opportunities, and challenges of partnerships and intersectoral collaboration in order to accelerate progress toward integrating and strengthening oral health as part of universal health coverage. A second panel featuring experts in commercial influences on public health will discuss how to ensure that the sugar industry’s influence does not interfere with policies and public health.

The event is cosponsored by the governments of Egypt, Japan, and Thailand as well as the World Economic Forum with support from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Free and open to the public with registration, it will be held at the NYU College of Dentistry at 433 First Avenue, second floor, in New York City.

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