EUGLOREH project
THE STATUS OF HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION:
TOWARDS A HEALTHIER EUROPE

FULL REPORT

PART II - HEALTH CONDITIONS

5. HEALTH IMPACTS OF NON COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND RELATED TIME-TRENDS

5.14 Dental and oral diseases

5.14.6. Policies

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5.14.6. Policies

 

At the 60th World Health Assembly, which took place in May 2007, Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted an action plan for oral health (WHO, 2007). The adoption of this action plan gives a clear sign to the international health community that oral health shall no longer be neglected. It is also a commitment at global level to improve oral health worldwide. The action plan is an important advocacy tool for countries in the European Union (EU). It recognises oral health as a significant public health problem that requires the sharing of responsibilities among Member States. It offers an opportunity to strengthen cooperation within the EU and move towards a collaborative approach to health. The action plan highlights the need to integrate oral health into public health policies, ensure information surveillance and knowledge transfer across borders, coordinate human resources and workforce planning and integrated approaches to oral health promotion.

 

Although carious lesions affect a relatively small portion of the population in some European countries, in others prevalence is still substantial. It is necessary to sustain the effort which has led to good progress over the past 20 years with improving oral health in some parts of Europe and to extend and build on this progress to reduce the prevalence and severity of dental caries in those countries and subsets of populations who still suffer a burden from this preventable disease. At the same time, the issues associated with managing the problems of contracting most appropriately with dental health care professionals and limiting treatment costs have also to be taken into account. Children are part of the most vulnerable groups affected and within this age group further difficulties arise for those affected by specific systemic conditions, those with developmental disturbances of tooth structure, the socio-economically deprived and the handicapped. It is, therefore, necessary to make preventive efforts on these special groups of populations. This will optimize the cost-effectiveness ratio of the health programmes implemented within the framework of a policy aiming at reducing inequalities in health. However, surveillance programmes are somewhat lacking in Europe, thus complicating the identification of these groups and the decision making process.