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Historic WHO oral health resolution paves path toward widespread changes in care

June 1, 2021
Agreement emerges that oral health "should be firmly embedded within the noncommunicable disease agenda"; long-term plan to take preventive vs. curative approach globally.

Many oral health conditions—most of which are linked to other noncommunicable diseases including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and others—are treatable in their early stages. But multiple factors—many like a lack of fluoride and insurance coverage linked to poverty—make prevention out of reach for many people.

During its 74th World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) approved a historic resolution on oral health urging Member States to address key risk factors of oral diseases including high sugar intake and tobacco and alcohol, and to move toward a shift from traditional curative approaches to preventive measures for improving worldwide oral health care—and reducing the risk of many serious diseases.

As well, there was clear agreement that oral health should be a firm part of the noncommunicable disease agenda and that oral health-care interventions should be included in universal health coverage programs. 

Among the resolution’s key upshots, the World Health Assembly asked WHO to develop by next year a draft global strategy on tackling oral diseases and to report back on progress and results for the next decade.

Read the full release on the WHO website