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News / March 20, 2008

Tackling the issue of global child dental disease

by Guy Hiscott

Senior dental leaders from around the world have attended a leadership programme organised by the Global Child Dental Health Taskforce (GCDHT) to tackle the issue of global child dental disease.

Supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and led by Professor Raman Bedi, Head of the Centre for International Child Oral Health at King’s College, the GCDHT was originally set up as the first global initiative aimed at improving child oral health.

Dental disease is reaching unprecedented levels in many countries. Over half of all children from these countries are suffering from treatable dental caries, yet less than 20% of these receive treatment.

Professor Bedi, Director of the GCDHT comments: ‘We see this programme as an opportunity to search for solutions and a means of pushing the problem of dental disease up the global health agenda. Since the last Senior Dental Leaders Programme we are already seeing the successes of Public Private Partnerships spearheaded by GCDHT and taken forward by national taskforces in places such as the Philippines and South Africa. Their commitment to tackling this problem is inspirational.

‘This year, senior dental deans have been invited to participate, and we are thrilled that 14 deans from 10 countries will attend, from the Philippines to the United States of America. This is an opportunity for senior leaders to come together to discuss strategies, share experiences and solutions and is a vital forum for global learning to tackle children’s oral health.’

The GCDHT initiative is currently underway in eight countries including China, India, Mexico, South Africa and the United States, reaching out to over one billion children and their parents. It expects to encompass 30 countries within the next few years and is responding to the fragmented global burden of oral disease. For example, 50% of UK children leave school never having had a filling whereas in Philippines, this figure is less than 10%.