Event Follows Landmark Lancet Series on Oral Health and Precedes UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage

flags outside UN building in New York

NYU College of Dentistry's World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry, together with The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, will host a United Nations (UN) side event on Sunday, Sept. 22, to alert the global health community to the largely ignored challenges of oral health worldwide and to call for dental care to be included in commitments to universal health coverage.

International momentum is growing toward universal health coverage, defined by the UN as the ability for all people and communities to receive the quality health services they need without financial hardship. The UN General Assembly will host its first High-Level Meeting on universal health coverage in New York on Sept. 23, Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World.

In an effort to accelerate global advocacy for oral health, knowledge sharing, and translation of evidence into practice, NYU College of Dentistry's WHO Collaborating Center and The Lancet will bring oral health into the conversation on universal health coverage at the Sept. 22 side event. The Lancet published a Series on Oral Health in July 2019 with a collection of papers describing why oral health has been neglected and advocating for radical public health action.

The Lancet Series on Oral Health is a milestone for the global oral health community. By calling attention to oral health, The Lancet has created visibility and urgency for a long-neglected crisis in global public health,” 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.

“Our event aims to send a strong message to the global health community that oral healthcare should no longer be isolated from mainstream healthcare, and we need fundamental change to integrate the two. The global momentum towards universal health coverage provides a unique opportunity for these reforms,” said Habib Benzian, research 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 Sustainable Development Goals call for universal health coverage, which must include access to basic oral healthcare and prevention for all. Countries like Thailand, France, Brazil have made bold efforts to integrate dental care into universal healthcare, demonstrating that major reforms are possible and can benefit oral health.”

Jocalyn Clark, Executive Editor for The Lancet, said: “The Lancet Series on Oral Health has proven to be a much welcomed, and much needed, wake-up call. Oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, yet despite presenting such a major public health burden, the Series found that oral health has been largely ignored by the global health community. We know that the burden of oral disease is set to grow, as more people are exposed to the underlying risk factors, including sugar, tobacco and alcohol. It’s time now for the dental care and global health communities to come together and take action to radically reform oral healthcare, tighten regulation of the sugar industry, and provide greater transparency on conflict of interests in dental research.”

The event will include three parts:

The global oral health challenges: Experts, co-authors, and editors of the Lancet Series will provide an overview of the challenges of oral diseases existing globally, the limitations of the current health systems, and the need to consider essential oral health care and prevention as integral to the universal health coverage agenda. Policy ideas for interventions and actions will be discussed.

Experiences & innovations in universal health coverage & oral health: Representatives and experts of selected UN Member States will showcase innovative approaches to ensuring universal access to essential oral health care and prevention.

Partnerships & collaboration to accelerate progress: Panelists representing different sectors and organizations will explore the need, opportunities, and challenges of partnerships and intersectoral collaboration in order to accelerate progress toward integrating and strengthening oral health as part of universal health coverage. A second panel featuring renowned experts in commercial influences on public health—including Marion Nestle (NYU Steinhardt), Cristin Kearns (University of California, San Francisco) and Nina Renshaw (NCD Alliance)—will discuss how to ensure that the sugar industry’s influence does not interfere with policies and public health.

The Sept. 22 NYU and Lancet side event—Leaving No One Behind: Integrating Universal Health Coverage and Essential Oral Health Care for All—is cosponsored by the governments of Egypt, Japan and Thailand, as well as the World Economic Forum, with support from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public with registration (full schedule and registration available at the event website) and will be held at NYU College of Dentistry at 433 First Avenue, 2nd floor. Reporters interested in attending should contact Rachel Harrison at rachel.harrison@nyu.edu.

About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating 9 percent of the 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. NYU Dentistry’s WHO Collaborating Center is one of only 10 WHO Collaborating Centers in the world. For more, visit: http://dental.nyu.edu/

About The Lancet Group
The Lancet began as an independent, international weekly general medical journal founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley. Since its first issue (October 5, 1823), the journal has strived to make science widely available so that medicine can serve and transform society, and positively impact the lives of people. Over the past two centuries, The Lancet has sought to address urgent topics in our society, initiate debate, put science into context, and influence decision makers around the world. The Lancet has evolved as a family of journals, with a growing number of titles covering specialties such as HIV, Neurology, Oncology, Respiratory Medicine, and Digital Health, but retains at its core the belief that medicine must serve society, that knowledge must transform society, and that the best science must lead to better lives.