South Africa's National Department of Health representative from the Oral Health Directorate, Dr Dr. Mzimkhulu Mcuba, with Chief Dental Officers from ministries of health and NCD focal points from WHO country offices in 20 Member States completed a three day capacity building workshop to accelerate implementation of the Regional Oral Health Strategy 2016-2025 held in Brazzaville, Congo from 27 February – 1 March 2019.
The workshop programme included sharing of country achievements, expert input and partner contributions covering a broad range of policy aspects, implementation challenges and opportunities, as well as global developments relevant to country implementation and monitoring, such as the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Over the course of the deliberations, participants and invited experts acknowledged the overall progress made in the oral health agenda. Concern over existing gaps in policy intentions and implementation were also raised.
The workshop explored and identified cost-effective mechanisms for delivery of essential oral health care, including the WHO PEN and other fiscal and policy recommendations in the WHO “best buys”. National road maps corresponding to the respective national contexts were developed to accelerate implementation of the Regional Oral Health Strategy. In addition, specific actions were recommended to strengthen oral health care systems in countries, guided by the four priority action areas of the Regional Oral Health Strategy, which are:
- To strengthen national advocacy, leadership and partnerships for addressing oral diseases as part of NCDs through a multisectoral approach;
- To reduce common risk factors, promoting oral health and ensuring access to appropriate fluorides;
- To strengthen health system capacity for integrated prevention and control of oral diseases; and
- To improve integrated surveillance of oral diseases, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and research
South Africa's country presentation and shared draft National Oral Health Policy and Strategy 2018-2023 were well received with participants reflecting interest to learn from the country's experience and progress of the National Oral Health Programme.