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World Health Assembly defines health priorities


June 1, 2015
by FDI World Dental Federation

May was an exceptionally busy month due to the 68th World Health Assembly taking place at the United Nations Geneva headquarters, which requires a lot of preparation at FDI. It is an event where you can learn a lot from both official statements and private conversations. For my part, I certainly detected in the opening statement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and official address of WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan a reorientation of health priorities.

Together, the statements focused attention on health emergencies (whether Ebola virus or natural disasters), resilience of health systems in general and in emergency situations, and the urgent need to fight antimicrobial resistance. The two also highlighted the need to combat neglected tropical diseases.

WHPA Leadership Forum
This came as no surprise since I was present at the Leadership Forum of the World Health Professions Alliance, where a representative from the WHO Health Workforce Department, in his keynote address, highlighted exactly the same priorities. The Forum comprised two sessions: the morning, where a lively debate took place on ‘Human Resources for Health Component in all Policies: What are the health workforce and health systems implications in adopted WHO policies?’

I addressed the afternoon session, ‘Ageing population and ageing health workforce’, with a report entitled ‘A blueprint for healthy longevity’, essentially outlining the agenda and conclusions of the World Congress 2015: Dental care and oral health for healthy longevity in an ageing society. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that the dental profession is very much in the vanguard of the ageing debate.

NCD Panel
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) remain on the WHO agenda, but less in evidence than in previous years. I attended an NCD high-level panel moderated by Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, with experts from one national government, the World Bank, WHO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the NCD Alliance.

The panel, entitled ‘From Commitment to Action: Delivering on NCDs and Health in the Post-2015 Era’ provided an opportunity to explore a credible game plan for preventing and managing NCDs as a cross-cutting development issue. I enjoyed the lively debate focusing on the state of global and national health architectures, sustainable financing for NCDs, and potential accountability mechanisms at all levels.

FDI: Global leadership in oral health
Before my visit to Geneva, I addressed the opening ceremony of the 55th International Annual Scientific Congress of the Iranian Dental Association, held in Tehran on 12 May 2015, on the invitation of IDA President Dr Gholamreza Ghaznavi. The World Federation for Laser Dentistry held a ‘Laser in Dentistry Symposium’ in conjunction with the IDA event.

In my address, entitled ‘FDI: Global leadership in oral health’, I focused on leadership through key areas of activity such as the FDI Strategy for Africa, and the worldwide Continuing Education Programme, global oral health promotion through initiatives such as World Oral Health Day and the FDI Data Hub for Global Oral Health, as well as promoting oral health literacy and prevention.

For more information, please visit:: http://www.fdiworldental.org/media/presidents-message/world-health-assembly-defines-health-priorities.aspx


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