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The Role of the FDI World Dental Federation in Global Oral Health

Article excerpt

The FDI World Dental Federation is a federation of 157 dental associations in 136 countries, representing more than 900 000 dental professionals worldwide. Its main roles are to bring together the world of dentistry, to represent the dental profession on a global level and to stimulate and facilitate the exchange of information across borders.

The idea of forming an international dental federation was first discussed at a meeting of the Copenhagen Dental Society, held in Copenhagen in 1894. In 1900, during a congress in Paris, the Federation dentaire internationale (FDI) was created in order to "forward dental education".

As one of the two oral health-related nongovernmental organizations in official relations with WHO, the FDI has a long history of collaboration with the Organization, which is based on the FDI's mission "to promote optimal oral and general health for all peoples".

Key activities of the FDI

Policy-making

In order to contribute to the development and dissemination of policies, standards and information related to all aspects of oral health care around the world, the FDI issues policy statements that set out current thinking on various issues related to oral health, the practice of dentistry and dental public health. These declarations, which are based on evidence where possible and are also the results of consensus among groups of experts, are disseminated to oral health professional organizations worldwide and serve as templates for national policy formulation.

Representation

Acting on behalf of its member associations, the FDI is the global voice of dentists and other oral health professionals. The legal framework of the practice of dentistry and other professional issues are elements of the FDI's representative functions with WHO, the United Nations and the European Union. The FDI protects the interests of its member associations and promotes the formation of professional organizations in countries where there are none. Adherence to the FDI and access to the support of the international family of health professionals helps such organizations to develop and strengthens their role at the national level.

Advocacy

Focus on the gaps and inequalities in oral and general health status is a major public health activity of the FDI, which promotes appropriate policies, education and technology. The reduction of risks to health--such as tobacco use and high sugar intake--are on the FDI's agenda for action, as well as the promotion of fluorides to prevent dental decay.

Interaction

The Annual World Dental Congress organized by the FDI is a major event aiming at information sharing between all stakeholders in international oral health. It is also a major source of income for the Federation. The official relations with WHO and other international organizations are of crucial importance for implication in consensus building, advocacy and policy formulation at the highest international levels. A strong, comprehensive set of ethical guidelines governs these relations, and is important to safeguard the independence and credibility of the FDI.

Achievements in FDI-WHO collaboration

Global goals for oral health

In 1981, the FDI and WHO jointly established global goals for oral health for the year 2000 (1). During the following decades most high-income countries reached or even exceeded these goals, but for many low-income countries they remain a remote aspiration. A joint working group composed of the FDI, the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and WHO developed new goals for oral health for the year 2020 (2), whose focus draws on the experience and evaluation of the previous goals and acknowledges the recognition of oral health as an integral part of general health. The new goals also encourage a broader view of oral health and indicators by including other diseases and conditions as well as dental caries. …