WHO Calls for Action on Oral Health During World Health Assembly

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The World Health Organization (WHO) approved a resolution urging its member states to improve oral healthcare via suggested strategies during its Seventy-Fourth World Health Assembly on May 27.

First, the resolution said member states should address key risk factors of oral diseases shared with other noncommunicable diseases such as the high intake of free sugars, tobacco use, and the harmful use of alcohol, as well as to enhance the capacities of oral health professionals.

Next, the resolution recommended a shift from the traditional curative approach toward a preventive approach that includes promotion of oral health within the family, schools, and workplace. This approach also should include timely and inclusive care within the primary healthcare system, WHO said.

Delegates agreed that oral health should be firmly embedded within the noncommunicable disease agenda and that oral healthcare interventions should be included in universal health coverage programs.

More than 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases, mostly in poor and socially disadvantaged populations, the WHO said. Most oral diseases have been linked with other noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, pneumonia, obesity, and premature birth, the WHO said.

However, the WHO added, oral health is not covered by many universal health coverage packages.

The WHO said it has been asked to develop a draft global strategy on tackling oral diseases for consideration in 2022 and by 2023 to translate that strategy into an action plan and recommend “best buy” interventions.

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