Ahead of World Oral Health Day 2014, the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe hosted its annual policy roundtable at the European Parliament Brussels on 18th March 2014. At the event, the Platform presented the preliminary results of its European Oral Health Report Card detailing the status of oral disease prevention policies throughout Europe.
The Report Card is based on the Platform’s 2020 Targets, which had been presented in the European Parliament on World Oral Health Day 2013. Its findings are based on a survey which was answered by representatives from 25 of the EU’s 28 Member States, covering 98% of the EU’s population.
The event was hosted by MEPs Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D, Romania) and Karin Kadenbach (S&D, Austria).
The Chair of the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe, Prof. Kenneth Eaton, highlighted that the results of the survey have demonstrated that there is significant work to be done in the Member States and particularly at EU level regarding dental practices and oral health and the role oral health professions should play. Effective action is needed, especially given the fact that the burden of oral diseases is bound to increase. The costs now amount to 80 billion euros, but these could increase to 93 billion euros per year by 2020.
Dr. Juan Riese-Jordá (NCP-Health, Health Institute Carlos III, Madrid, Spain), general coordinator of the European Commission’s Joint-Action on Chronic Diseases, presented the Joint Action and emphasised the participation of the Platform as the only representative of the oral health field. There are 36 Associated Partners to the Joint Action and 23 collaborating partners including the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe – the latter contributes to Work Package 5 – Good practices in the field of health promotion and chronic disease prevention across the life cycle.
Ms Maiken BaggerDDS, Head of Department of Specialised Oral Health Care, Aalborg Municipal Dental Services, Denmark then introduced participants to “The Aalborg Approach to
Preventive Oral Health Strategies in Denmark”. In Denmark, the municipalities are divided into three different oral healthcare programs: children up to 18 years old, the disabled and elderly and a specialised category for the disabled. The aims of all three oral health programmes are to provide regular examinations, to prevent oral disease, deliver treatment whenever necessary and offer instructions and aid to the patients. The main pillars of the Aalborg approach are its centralisation, forward thinking and individual oral health plans.
Prof. Heikki Murtomaa, Head and Chair, Department of Oral Public Health, Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki then discussed “Dental Public Health and Implications of the Results of the Report Card”. He also introduced the Platform’s White Paper which gives advice to Member States, the Commission and MEPs on how to go about achieving the targets by 2020. Prof. Murtomaa mentioned the Platform will further collate data from the Member States to present the findings at the Second European Oral Health Summit in March 2015. In addition, the Platform will continue its stakeholder engagement with the new European Parliament and European Commission in the second half of 2014. The preliminary findings of the Report Card will be used as a basis for these discussions.
After a fruitful debate, the proceedings were brought to a close by MEP Tănăsescu.
He applauded the Platform that effective action is taken, which is necessary because the costs of oral diseases could reach 93 to 95 billion euros per year. He stressed however that there is still significant work to be done in the Member States, and also at EU level, to improve the governance, practices, role of oral health professions, educations and awareness practices. MEP Tănăsescu said he is proud to become a supporter of the ongoing work of the Platform and is willing to help towards making better oral health.
Lisa Rusch from the office of MEP Karin Kadenbach (S&D – AT) stressed that oral disease is a major public health problem, which is extremely costly, amounting to 5% of EU health spending. However, we should not forget that it is preventable, so MEP Kadenbach is honoured to support the Oral Health Platform from the beginning because the Platform has kept oral health on the political agenda. The Oral Health report card is an important step for policymakers in this regard.
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