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Global oral health in focus at United Nations high-level meeting

By Dental Tribune International
October 22, 2019

NEW YORK, U.S.: On Sept. 23, the United Nations held the High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the General Assembly in New York. Covering a wide range of topics around health care, the meeting also discussed the importance of oral health. At the meeting, world leaders adopted the first UN political declaration on UHC. In a statement, FDI World Dental Federation said it welcomed the “long overdue commitment to strengthening oral health” expressed in the declaration.

Held under the name “Universal health coverage: Moving together to build a healthier world,” the high-level meeting was the last chance before 2023 to mobilize political attention and gain financial support, with the following 4 years to be used to accelerate efforts towards the achievement of UHC by 2030.

Speaking about the meeting, FDI President Dr. Gerhard Seeberger said, “Oral health is one of the most neglected areas of global health, so we applaud world leaders for this breakthrough commitment that gives teeth to the UN political declaration. It is now vital that the declaration be converted into concrete, sustainable action at the national level.”

Commenting on the inclusion of oral health in UHC, Dr. Benoit Varenne, a dental officer in the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases department at the World Health Organization, said it provides a unique opportunity to improve access to essential oral health services and address substantial out-of-pocket expenses associated with oral health care in many countries. “The integration of essential oral health services into UHC will help improve health outcomes and reduce fundamental inequalities in access to care,” noted Varenne.

Along with oral health, a number of other areas were highlighted. According to a World Health Organization statement, the meeting focused on including access to essential health services and a skilled health workforce, financial risk protection, and access to safe, quality, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines for all.

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