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UN High-level Meeting on NCDs: Oral Health Side Event

Tooth decay is the most common preventable disease of mankind, but are we doing enough for prevention and control of oral diseases?





The purpose of the September 2018 United Nations General Assembly 3rd High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) is to undertake a comprehensive review of the global and national progress to prevent and reduce early morbidity and mortality from heart and lung diseases, cancers and diabetes.

During the first High-level Summit on NCDs convened in New York in 2011, New York
University (NYU) hosted a side-event on oral health, co-sponsored by the governments of Tanzania, Sweden and Australia. The event was attended by about 150 delegates of member states, NYU officials and other stakeholders such as the FDI World Dental Federation and the International Association for Dental Research.

Since then, the international discourse and action around prevention and control of NCDs has advanced, though not at the required pace to meet the ambitious targets outlined in the Political Declaration on NCDs (2011) and the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs (2013). Both documents recognize oral diseases, albeit briefly and without much detail.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Studies have confirmed that untreated tooth decay is the most common disease of mankind and three oral diseases rank among the ten most frequent health conditions worldwide. More than 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases and related psychological, social and/or economic consequences.

NYU College of Dentistry
Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion

The objectives of the side event are to:

  1. Provide a snapshot of the burden and impact of oral diseases and challenges related
    to addressing them, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC);
  2. Highlight evidence and pathways towards prevention of oral diseases integrated with
    NCDs and aligned with SDGs, including innovative country experiences and "best buy"
  3. Present key aspects of an investment case for oral health, emphasizing the need to
    focus on simple preventive interventions in order to address the disease burden in
    LMIC; and
  4. To garner support and momentum towards integration of oral health in all policies and
    health systems by providing arguments and evidence for advocacy, policy and action.
    Selected aspects may be illustrated by examples from co-sponsoring member states (TBC).

World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry Designation

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion as a WHO Collaborating Center for Quality–improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry (QED WHO CC). The WHO designation recognizes NYU Dentistry’s expertise and commitment to evidence-based dentistry and provides the framework for developing, monitoring, and disseminating novel approaches to oral health education, prevention, and disease control in the Americas and globally.

WHO Collaborating Centers are designated by the Director-General of WHO as part of an inter-institutional collaborative network of centers worldwide. They are established to provide concrete activities at the national, regional, and global levels in support of the strategic plans specific to WHO areas of work. All WHO Collaborating Centers in the Region of the Americas are known as PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centers since the Pan American Health Organization also serves as a WHO regional office.

The NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center — one of only 10 WHO Dentistry Collaborating Centers in the world — received its designation in December 2016 for a renewable four-year period, guided by the WHO Terms of Reference (TORs). Specific teams support education, research, and scholarly exchange on behalf of three principal aims:

  1. To provide technical cooperation in designing novel effective and efficient surveillance systems for oral diseases, conditions and behaviors that measure disease burden, quality of life, and impact of preventive interventions.
  2. To develop and disseminate protocols for the prevention and control of oral diseases across the lifespan.
  3. To develop educational content for the prevention and control of oral diseases among seniors and the elderly by primary healthcare professionals working in community and health centers.

Through these activities, the Center also fosters competence in global health for pre- and postdoctoral students and faculty at NYU Dentistry.

The Center is codirected by Richard Niederman, DMD, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, and Eugenio Beltran, DMD, MPH, DrPH, MS, adjunct professor of epidemiology and health promotion.


We thank our corporate supporters:

Henry Schein



Oral Diseases and NCDs

Untreated tooth decay (dental caries, cavities) is the most common global NCD. It shares risk factors with all other NCDs and is a marker for inequality.

Cost-effective preventive interventions at the policy, health system, community and personal levels are available. Yet, these preventive interventions ("best buys") are not applied at a large scale and are not universally available.

The side-event, attended by high-level country delegations, key stakeholders, experts and advocates will explore:

  • Barriers to oral health equity and integration with NCDs
  • The business case for global oral health
  • Synergies of improving oral health equity for other NCDs.