United Nations Side Event on Oral Health & Universal Health Coverage

"Kick-starting the WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan"

Side Event on Oral Health and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on the occasion of the 2nd United Nations High-level Meeting on UHC


The WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022) highlighted that “the state of oral health globally is alarming and requires urgent action by all stakeholders”. Oral diseases are among the most common noncommunicable diseases worldwide. Nearly 3.5 billion people across all age groups suffer from oral diseases, with 3 out of every 4 affected people living in low- and middle-income countries. Global cases of oral diseases have increased by 1 billion over the last 30 years showing that in most countries people do not have access to essential oral health care.

The vision of the new WHO Global Strategy on Oral Health calls for “UHC for oral health for all individuals and communities by 2030, enabling them to enjoy the highest attainable state of oral health and contributing to healthy and active lives.” The Global Monitoring Framework to the Global Oral Health Action Plan aims at 80% of the global population have access to essential oral health care services by 2030. The current baseline data estimate that only 23% of the global population are have access to oral health care services.

Against this backdrop it is highly pertinent to identify enablers and barriers to accelerated progress in implementing the WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan. The side-event, organized by the WHO Collaborating Center of NYU’s College of Dentistry, aims to facilitate critical discussion between and among stakeholder groups.

The event is supported by the Ministries of Health from Egypt, Israel, Malaysia and Tonga, and by The Lancet. Speakers include Ministers and government representatives, Dr. Jerome Salomon, Assistant Director General, WHO; Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, Director, NCDs and Mental Health, WHO; Dr. James Fitzgerald, Director, Health Systems and Services, Pan American Health Organization; and other renowned experts.

Objectives and Scope

The side-event will comprise three elements, all complemented by ample interaction time with the participants:

The global oral health challenges

Experts will provide an overview of the challenges of oral diseases globally, the limitations of the current health systems and the need to consider essential oral health care and prevention as part of NCD Primary health care benefit package and integral to the UHC agenda. The new WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan (2023-2030) and the global monitoring framework will be detailed and opportunities for accelerated engagement be highlighted.

Experiences & innovations in UHC & Oral Health

Representatives of UN Member States and invited experts will showcase innovative approaches to ensuring universal access to essential oral health care and prevention. The session will highlight implementation challenges but also positive impacts and benefits. The alignment opportunities with the regional and global policy context will be explored.

Accelerating progress for oral health globally

A moderated discussion with the audience and invited panelists will debate opportunities and pathways towards accelerated progress in implementing the WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan. NYU students are encouraged to register too!

The event will be followed by an informal lunch reception for networking and media/interview opportunities. The target audience for the side-event are UN Member State delegations attending the High-level Meeting, heads of state, country missions in New York, oral health and public health stakeholders, including academia, civil society, and corporate entities.


Key Contact

Dr. Habib Benzian
Research Professor, NYU College of Dentistry
Co-director, WHO Collaborating Center for Quality Improvement & Evidence-based Dentistry
NYU College of Dentistry

Ms. Topaz Murray-Small


In collaboration with

The Lancet