Dr. Gerhard Seeberger succeeds Dr. Kathryn Kell as FDI President. (Photograph: FDI)
Interview: “We will ensure the best medical treatment and care for our patients”
The recent ADA FDI World Dental Congress 2019, held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from Sept. 4–8, saw the conclusion of Dr. Kathryn Kell’s successful term as FDI President. Succeeding her is Dr. Gerhard Seeberger, who will hold the title until 2021. In this interview, Seeberger discusses what he hopes to achieve as president and what optimal oral health means to him.
Dr. Seeberger, what are you most looking forward to as the new FDI President?
During my term as president, I want to guarantee dignity: dignity for dentistry as a medical profession at the service of the people; dignity for people and patients, and, finally, dignity for FDI and its members. The last will be conferred to dentists only if they tirelessly engage for the betterment of our global society.
What are your priorities for the next two years?
My priorities are guided by FDI’s 2018–2020 strategic plan and its three strategic focus areas: membership, advocacy and knowledge transfer. My favorite is advocacy, as there is a fundamental need for it.
Today we live in a weak, almost decadent, society whose decisional power has shifted from politics to economics. Considering that oral diseases are still the most prevalent diseases in the world, we have a responsibility to diligently scrutinize conflicts of interest in dental and medical research and oral health policy. Leading the world to optimal oral health—the FDI vision—can only be achieved with the support of our corporate partners. Through transparent working relationships and addressing any potential conflicts of interest up front, we will ensure the best medical treatment and care for our patients.
When did you join FDI, and what inspired you to become an active member?
I became involved with FDI in 2004 as the National Liaison Officer and President of the Italian Dental Association. I was never looking for any particular FDI position. My colleagues trusted in what I was saying and doing, and their communities’ needs were my greatest inspiration. Trust has been the reason for each position I’ve held at FDI since 2007, first as President of the European Regional Organization, and then as FDI Council member, speaker, and president-elect.
FDI’s vision is “leading the world to optimal oral health”. What does “optimal oral health” mean to you?
Optimal oral health is strongly linked, but not limited to, FDI’s definition of oral health. The term “optimal” leaves room for interpretation, and my humble, though subjective, interpretation is: oral health is optimal when it is part of a healthy person. Optimal is intrinsic, as there is no other kind!