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Global Child Dental Health Taskforce

Summary of activities in 2006

During its first year, the Global Child Dental Health Taskforce has made significant progress in developing an innovative approach to achieving its principle aims of improving child oral health worldwide and eradicating dental caries (tooth decay) in the worldwide child cohort born in 2026. GCDHT recognizes that modest goals yield only modest outcomes and significant results occur when commonly held assumptions are challenged, resources are targeted, and collaborations are synergistic.

A key part of its strategy is to build a network of national taskforces which combine public private partnerships in the drive to improve oral health and develop cutting edge preventive approaches. Burton Burt Edelstein, co-chair of the USA child dental health taskforce, highlighted the 3 pillars of the strategy. First, from a clinical perspective, this goal recognizes that dental caries is reasonably well understood as a disease process, that current preventive and control modalities are potent yet underutilized, and that scientific advances arising from genomics and plaque ecology management are well along in development. Second, from a public health and public policy perspective, this goal recognizes that each country faces idiosyncratic challenges yet no country can successfully eliminate tooth decay exclusively through dental treatment. Third, from a strategic perspective, this goal demands strong leadership, clear structure, effective advocacy, robust resources, high visibility, widespread community engagement, objective accountability.

Taken together, these three components make it self-evident that each country must identify and capitalize on its own unique strengths, identify and address its own unique weaknesses, and organize its efforts in ways that resonate within its own cultural and governmental agendas.

Summary of last year activities

Last year, with the support of local senior dental advisors and government officials, nine national taskforces were targeted, based on demographics and infrastructure; Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United States. Each country has organized a Dental Health Taskforce and has established a country-appropriate initial leadership structure. Significantly, these initial member countries represent 50% of the world’s children[1], which equates to over 1 billion children, and also encompass the developing and developed world across every major continent.

A public private partnership has also been formed with Colgate Palmolive, the largest oral health care company in the world and a liaison established with the WHO. Colgate Palmolive’s commitment is critical and includes developing local community initiatives, providing 30 million dental health packs and funding local meetings. Seeking further commercial sponsors both global and local, is an ongoing priority.

So what has been achieved in the first 12 months? To date, GCDHT has convened an international meeting of country-level governmental dental officials through which was established a Declaration on Child Oral Health 21 . Second, planned a multinational Global Dental Leaders Training Program for March 2007. Third, begun developing an on-line child and oral health training program. Fourth, stimulated development of 9 nation-specific Children’s Dental Health Taskforces, and finally established a short term goal of “developing strategic vision statements by the end of 2007 to take to national and international charities” in order to target half of the global pediatric population.

Our first year anniversary ended a hectic but highly enjoyable twelve months for the Global Child Dental Health Taskforce project. Nine national taskforces have met and as would be expected progress is variable. The concept of developing a national consensus between government, profession and industry is novel for some, commonplace for others and revolutionary for a few. However, it has been impressive to note the team ethic developing and individuals or groups aligning themselves to ask how we can improve child oral health even more significantly than existing programmes and policies. Many taskforces have begun to draft a national 15-year strategic plan for child dental health, with most deciding to pilot their programmes in one area of the country. We still plan to have all strategic plans completed by the end of 2007. These will have an impact on over 1 billion children. We will also begin the process of agreed oral health messages for a particular year, that is, a common message that is given to the public and patients in national oral health week programmes, as well as industrial based community initiatives such as Bright Smiles and Bright Futures. These are early days but an intra and inter country consensus only adds to our ambition to build local, national and global Public Private Partnerships. At the beginning of January 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu accepted an invitation to serve as Patron of the project and is in full support of our work.

So far this year second National Taskforce meetings have taken place in South Africa, USA and the Philippines. In March 2007, the first Senior Dental Leaders Programme was executed, bringing together 17 Global CDOs and senior leaders, representing 11 countries for a residential 5-day educational programme. A number of senior speakers were involved in the programme, including Professor Poul-Erik Peterson, Chief of WHO’s Oral Health Programme, Dr. Brian Mouatt, former Chair of the World Dental Development Committee and past CDO: England, and Dr. Tony Volpe, Director: Colgate Worldwide Clinical Research programme. We have been delighted with the feedback from delegates and will be launching our March 2008 programme. The focus for this will be on how educational leaders can help in the GCDHT project. To that end we will target Deans (and aspiring Deans) of Dental Schools. I am delighted that Professors Nairn Wilson and Crispian Scully have agreed to be lecturers on the programme.

The summer will see the finalising of an agreement with Blackwell’s Munksgaard publishers to allow GCDHT to use its dental journals on-line as part of the on-line child and oral health training programme. Five articles will be chosen each month and will be published on the GCDHT website, along with a short commentary from myself and/or other reviewers

I have just returned from the GCDHT_Philippines meeting. This is our second meeting and every time I go I am appalled at the state of child oral health. It has to be the worst child oral health in the world. 95+% of children with obvious dental decay. 50% with extensive decay. The Philippines needs dental public expertise and external funding to help it manage this crisis. At the end of May, an announcement was made in China of the establishment of a new Oral Health Division within the Ministry of Health. We are delighted as this was one of the requests made by GCDHT during its inaugural meeting in September 2006. The Oral Health Division will be officially launched in June. The Minister of Health for South Africa has agreed to attend the next GCDHT_South Africa meeting in August 2007. In June 2007, the Global Child Dental Fund was established as an independent charity within King’s College London and as a charity this will target International organisations and governments to raise funds and distribute them to participating countries in order to allow them to carry out the work as outlined in their Strategic Plans. So what has been achieved in the first 12 months? To date, GCDHT has

convened an international meeting of country-level governmental dental officials through which was established a Declaration on Child Oral Health implemented a successful multinational Global Dental Leaders Training program began developing an on-line child and oral health training program stimulated development of national-specific Children’s Dental Health taskforces established a short term goal of developing strategic vision statements by the end of 2007 to take to national and international charities in order to target half of the global paediatric population Established a Global Child Dental Fund Above all this was the recruitment of a global statesman as our first patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Yours

Professor Raman Bedi
Director, Global Child dental health Taskforce

Professor Raman Bedi
Director, Global Child Dental Health Taskforce
Director, Centre for International Child Oral Health, KCL June 2007

India needs a dental health chief to give leadership and implement the ambitious global plan to eradicate dental caries among children by 2026, says a British expert

"If we are going to implement the WHO's global child dental Health Taskforce programme in India to eradicate tooth caries problem among children in the next 20 years, we need a good dental leadership," said Professor Raman Bedi, director of the global taskforce.

"We need good leadership at both the national and state level," Bedi, who was chief dental officer in Britain from October 2002 to October 2005, told IANS.

Indian-born Bedi was co-chair of the first meeting of the national taskforce held here earlier this week.

"All the taskforce members, including the dental Council of India, shared the view that the Indian government should appoint a chief dental officer just like there is a director general of health service. Majority of countries have a chief dental officer," said Bedi.

Stating that the national taskforce will be making a recommendation for appointment of a chief dental officer in the health ministry, which has very little focus on dental health problem, Bedi underlined the need to promote awareness on the importance of oral health.

"Not many realise that oral health is linked closely with overall health? particularly heart disease. It can cause pain during pregnancy and for nursing mothers. India needs to plan now for a healthy population and not just a rich population," said Bedi.

India is one of the 10 countries participating in the first phase of the global child dental Health Taskforce, launched in Britain last year in September. The other countries are the US, Mexico, Brazil, Britain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, the Philippines and Australia.

After India, Bedi will be holding taskforce meetings in other countries to draw up a strategy plan for eradication of tooth decay problem among child