WHO highlights oral health neglect affecting nearly half of the world’s population

a new one Global Oral Health Status Report The report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) provides the first comprehensive overview of the oral disease burden, with data profiles for 194 countries, providing unique insights into key areas and markers of oral health relevant to policymakers.

Reports show that nearly half of the world’s population (45%, or 3.5 billion people) suffer from oral diseases, with 3 out of 4 affected people living in low- and middle-income countries. The number of oral disease cases worldwide has increased by one billion over the past 30 years, clearly demonstrating that many people do not have access to oral disease prevention and treatment.

“Oral health has long been neglected in global health, but many oral diseases can be prevented and treated through cost-effective measures outlined in this report,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “WHO Committed to providing guidance and support to countries so that all people, no matter where they live or what their income, have the knowledge and tools they need to care for their teeth and mouth, and have access to prevention and care services when they need it.”

Oral diseases are increasing rapidly

The most common oral diseases are dental caries (cavities), severe gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Untreated dental caries is the most common disease worldwide, affecting approximately 2.5 billion people. Severe gum disease is the leading cause of total tooth loss and affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Approximately 380,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year.

The report highlights stark inequalities in access to oral health services, with oral diseases and conditions placing a huge burden on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. The burden of oral disease is higher among people with low incomes, people with disabilities, older people living alone or in nursing homes, people living in remote rural communities, and minority ethnic groups.

This pattern of inequality is similar to other non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental disorders. Common risk factors for NCDs, such as high sugar intake, various forms of tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, contribute to the global oral health crisis.

Barriers to providing oral health services

Only a small proportion of the global population has access to basic oral health services, and those who need it most often have the least access. Major barriers to providing oral health care for all include:

  1. Oral health care requires significant out-of-pocket costs. This often results in catastrophic costs and heavy financial burdens for families and communities.
  2. The delivery of oral health care services relies heavily on highly specialized providers using expensive high-tech equipment and materials, and these services are not well integrated with the primary health care model.
  3. Weak information and surveillance systems, coupled with the low priority given to public oral health research, are major bottlenecks in developing more effective oral health interventions and policies.

Opportunities to improve global oral health

The report demonstrates many promising opportunities to improve oral health globally, including:

  • Adopt a public health approach to address common risk factors by promoting a low-sugar, balanced diet, discontinuing all forms of tobacco use, reducing alcohol consumption, and improving access to effective and affordable fluoride toothpaste;
  • Plan oral health services as part of national health and integrate oral health services into primary health care as part of universal health coverage;
  • Redefine the oral health workforce model to meet population needs and expand the capacity of non-dental health workers to expand oral health service coverage; and
  • Strengthen information systems by collecting oral health data and integrating them into the national health surveillance system.

Dr Bengt Mixon, Director of WHO’s Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, said: “If we are to achieve our vision of universal health coverage for all individuals and communities by 2030, putting people at the heart of oral health services is essential. It's important.

She added: “This report serves as a starting point, providing baseline information to help countries monitor implementation progress, while also providing timely and relevant feedback to decision-makers at the national level. Together we can change the neglected landscape of oral health. status quo.

Editorial Notes

Watch the press conference Friday 18 November from 14:00 to 15:30 CETplease register at https://who.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hDqiDjW9TBm4fSVljj3zQw.

The Global State of Oral Health report uses the latest available data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Project, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and World Health Organization global surveys. The report is intended for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, development agencies and members of the private sector and civil society.

In 2022, the World Health Assembly adopted a global strategy for oral health with a vision of achieving universal health coverage for oral health for all individuals and communities by 2030. translated into practice. This includes a monitoring framework to track progress, and measurable targets to be achieved by 2030.

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