Vision 2030 Provides Strategies to Advance Oral Health
The global burden of oral diseases remains unacceptably high, despite the fact these conditions are largely preventable.
The global burden of oral diseases remains unacceptably high, despite the fact these conditions are largely preventable. One reason is that major inequalities in oral health persist. Furthermore, oral health is still not integrated into global health and development agendas, or recognized as a priority by governments, stakeholders and individuals. For the past two years, an FDI World Dental Federation working group has been developing a strategic plan to enable the oral health community to meet these challenges and seize opportunities to positively shape health policies. The outcome is Vision 2030: Delivering Optimal Oral Health for All (Vision 2030), and its overarching goal is to reduce oral health inequalities and improve oral healthcare over the next decade, with no person left behind. The report identifies targets and indicators and proposes solutions and recommendations contingent on local needs, conditions, and circumstances.
Vision 2030 advocates for the profession to be part of all healthcare policies and offers solutions on how to improve oral health for all. Some of the broad questions the working group strived to answer include how members of the oral health community can anticipate transformational changes and trends in the global health environment, and how to become productive members of healthcare teams delivering patient-centered care.
The cochairs of the FDI Vision 2030 working group, Michael Glick, DMD, professor of oral diagnostic sciences in the School of Dental Medicine at University at Buffalo, State University of New York, and David Williams, BDS, MSc, PhD, FRCPath, FDSRCS, professor of global oral health at Queen Mary University of London, led an international team of dentists, economists and researchers to develop Vision 2030. The document is built around three pillars: recognizing the need for universal coverage for oral health; integrating oral health into the general health and development agenda; and building a resilient oral health workforce to ensure sustainable development. The report also identifies specific elements that must be addressed to achieve each goal.
“The burden of oral health worldwide is massive: 3.5 billion people globally suffer from untreated disease of the mouth, and that’s in spite of the best efforts of dentists worldwide. So the question is, if what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, then what are we going to do differently?” asks Glick.
Communities can use the report to create their own roadmap, adapting strategies to address the unique trends and oral healthcare needs of their citizens.
“There are different challenges in different places, but the biggest challenge we all face is inequality in society — both between and within countries,” says Williams. “To address this challenge, Vision 2030 proposes a global strategy in which oral health professionals advocate not just on behalf of the profession, but for the wider population they serve. Advocacy is tremendously important. If the dental profession acts alone, our voice is not that loud. But in partnership with society as a whole and with other healthcare professionals, it becomes much more effective.”
Preparing the future group of dental professionals to serve as leaders in the healthcare community, and as advocates for patients and the profession, requires reforming education systems. Vision 2030 emphasizes the need for an undergraduate curriculum that includes the integration of oral health in general health, with a greater focus on social determinants and patient-centered care. Educating healthcare providers and patients about the oral-systemic link is also vital to the profession having a voice in healthcare policies. Glick explains patients need to be able to share in their treatment decisions. Once patients are engaged and understand the importance of oral health, they will advocate for quality dental care. Only then can society and the profession come together to advocate to other stakeholders and policymakers for the right to quality, patient-centered, and affordable oral healthcare.
“We have not educated patients enough for them to realize the importance of oral health,” says Glick, who, in collaboration with Williams and FDI, led the development of the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement’s Adult Oral Health Standard Set. This care model gives patients an opportunity to play a role in their own care. The first international standard for measuring treatment outcomes for oral health in adults over 18 is available in FDI’s International Dental Journal.
Publication of the document coincided with the 148th session of the World Health Organization executive board, where an oral health resolution was adopted for consideration by the World Health Assembly when it meets in May 2021. Be it perfect timing or a happy accident, the resolution contains many of the same solutions proposed by Vision 2030 to reduce the global burden of oral diseases.
Meanwhile, FDI is broadly promoting the recommendations of Vision 2030 to governments and policymakers as a source of practical solutions on how to integrate oral health into universal health coverage and noncommunicable diseases agendas. The organization will also work with its nearly 200 member organizations, namely, national dental associations and specialist groups from more than 130 countries, to ensure the health and well-being of populations is secured by addressing and reducing the oral disease burden.