Event Follows UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, Highlights Importance of Addressing Oral Diseases Worldwide

Svetlana Axelrod, Assistant Director General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health
Dr. Svetlana Axelrod, World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, will present the event's keynote address.

NYU College of Dentistry and its World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center, together with NYU College of Global Public Health, will host an event on Friday, September 28, on accelerating global progress in addressing oral health. This is part of the worldwide movement to prevent noncommunicable chronic diseases, which are a growing threat.

Svetlana Axelrod, the WHO Assistant Director General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, will present the keynote address. Said Dr. Axelrod, “Good oral health is a crucial element of overall health and, as such, part of the human right to health. It is a striking fact that untreated tooth decay is among the most common noncommunicable diseases worldwide—and almost entirely preventable. The side event, organized by the two NYU colleges, is a welcome opportunity to promote full integration of oral health in strategic actions to address the global noncommunicable disease crisis.”

Other noteworthy speakers include Francesco Branca, director of the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health & Development in Geneva. The Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Morocco, Anass Doukkali, and the Minister of Health from Burkina Faso, Nicolas Meda, will share their countries’ experiences.

The side event follows the United Nations 3rd High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), to be held at the UN Headquarters in New York on September 27.  The meeting brings together heads of state, ministers of health, and other international stakeholders to review global progress on the prevention and control of noncommunicable chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

More than 3.5 billion people worldwide suffer from oral diseases and related psychological, social, and economic consequences. Despite the wide prevalence of oral diseases, oral health is rarely the focus of discussions on noncommunicable diseases. NYU’s side event is designed to bring increased visibility to oral health, provide a snapshot of the burden of oral diseases, and outline challenges related to addressing oral disease, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

“Cost-effective interventions to prevent oral diseases are available at the policy, health system, community, and personal levels, but are not universally implemented. Our event will explore evidence and pathways towards prevention of oral diseases in synergy with other noncommunicable diseases,” said Richard Niederman, chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry and director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry, the only WHO Collaborating Center on oral health in the Americas. The Center aims to foster policy dialogue around oral health and the translation of evidence into practice.

“While worldwide access to oral health care is improving, many people still lack access,” said Cheryl G. Healton, dean of NYU College of Global Public Health. “In some parts of the world, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio of dentist to patient population is exceedingly low—1:150,000, according to WHO—making universal access essentially impossible and prevention even more important.”

The event is endorsed by the governments of Burkina Faso and Morocco, whose work on noncommunicable diseases and oral health will be featured. Colgate and Henry Schein have provided corporate support.

“The event will send a strong signal to the global health community that oral diseases are major public health challenges that can no longer be ignored. The Sustainable Development Goals call for universal health care, and that must include access to basic oral health care and prevention for everyone,” said Habib Benzian, adjunct professor at NYU’s Colleges of Dentistry and Global Public Health and associate director of global health and policy for the WHO Collaborating Center.

The NYU side event, which is free and open to the public with registration, will take place from 1 to 7 pm (full schedule and registration available at the event website) at the NYU Institute for the Study of Ancient World (15 East 84th Street, New York, NY 10028). Reporters interested in attending should contact Rachel Harrison at rachel.harrison@nyu.edu.

About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, NYU Dentistry is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of all of our nation’s dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. It is the home of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry. WHO Collaborating Centers are designated by the Director-General of WHO as part of an inter-institutional collaborative network of centers worldwide. For more, visit: http://dental.nyu.edu/

About NYU College of Global Public Health
At the NYU College of Global Public Health (NYU GPH), we are preparing the next generation of public health pioneers with the critical thinking skills, acumen, and entrepreneurial approaches necessary to reinvent the public health paradigm. Devoted to employing a nontraditional, inter-disciplinary model, NYU GPH aims to improve health worldwide through a unique blend of global public health studies, research and practice. The College is located in the heart of New York City and extends to NYU's global network on six continents. Innovation is at the core of our ambitious approach, thinking and teaching. For more, visit: http://publichealth.nyu.edu/