May 29, 2013
by FDI World Dental Federation
The WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013-2020 contains specific mention of oral diseases. The plan was adopted by WHO member states on 27 May at the 66th World Health Assembly (Geneva, 20 to 28 May 2013).
The reference to oral diseases reflects government commitments in the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on NCDs, which recognize that oral diseases share risk factors with the four major chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory disease—and thus benefit from a common approach.
Commenting the result of the NCD agenda item, WHO Assistant-Director General, Dr Oleg Chestnov told the World Health Assembly, “the adoption of the global action plan moves the process from the political to the practical realm”.
With the adoption of the global monitoring framework and the ambitious 9 global targets and 25 indicators, all governments are for the first time accountable for progress on NCDs.
FDI President, Dr Orlando Monteiro da Silva commented: “The WHO document, in line with the 2011 UN political declaration, acknowledges that a comprehensive response for prevention and control of NCDs should take into account oral diseases, along with other conditions. This is a considerable achievement for our profession and a milestone towards the inclusion of oral health in global health.”
Oral cancer For FDI, it is especially heartening to see that oral cancer screening is recommended to Member States as one of the policy options and cost-effective interventions for the prevention and control of major NCDs. The action plan calls for ‘Oral cancer screening in high-risk groups (e.g. tobacco users, betel-nut chewers) linked with timely treatment.’
A footnote makes the important point that ‘Screening is meaningful only if associated with capacity for diagnosis, referral and treatment’.