Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2019  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 486-

Oral health, universal health coverage, and dental research

SM Balaji 
 Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director and Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
S M Balaji
Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director and Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Balaji S M. Oral health, universal health coverage, and dental research.Indian J Dent Res 2019;30:486-486

How to cite this URL:
Balaji S M. Oral health, universal health coverage, and dental research. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 3 ];30:486-486
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Full Text

In the recent past, on September 23, 2019, the United Nations (UN), as part of its agenda to improve human health officially adopted its Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the presence of world leaders at a UN High-Level Meeting.

This is seminally important, as till in the recent past, oral health was kept off the ambit of this declaration.[1] The 2018 reports indicated that oral health would effectively contribute to achieving the UHC and the sustainable development goals, outlined by the UN.[1],[2] Poor oral health still remains a silent epidemic affecting about half of world's population, who are often the marginalized and in resource limited settings.[1],[2] Effectively, this number translates to about 3.58 billion people. Oral diseases, such as dental caries (tooth decay), gum disease, and oral cancer, are the most common forms of preventable noncommunicable diseases and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, absenteeism from work, disfigurement, and even death.[1],[2] In spite of the best efforts, it has been reported that such oral disease incidence continues to increase in spite of best possible interventions and population level programs. Oral diseases are reported to be the fourth most expensive out-of-pocket disease to treat.[3]

Most importantly, presence of oral diseases, notably the dental caries and gingival diseases influences the progression of systemic diseases.[2] Hence, the indirect burden of oral diseases, remains unfathomable.[4] The influence of the industries such as refined sugar products on health policy making and or the end-user markets are a cause of concern. The role of dentists need to be shifted primarily from being a cure provider for dental ailment, to a primary oral disease prevention role.[5] This can happen only with a radical, disruption of current oral health policies. In this regard, the inputs from a group of dentists need to be heard.[6]

This call for inclusion of oral health in UHC, impending changes in outlook of dental health care would provide an ample opportunity for the policymakers and dental researchers to recalibrate their priorities, set in new experiments – social and problem/need based experiments, which would lead to extermination of oral diseases. Being an upcoming economy with a billion population, Indian dentists can contribute in significant way in the upcoming oral health care delivery system change.[7] Also, this would mandate the Indian oral health personnel to work more closely with the health workforce so as to identify healthcare solutions that are in the best interests of the patients and, thus populations at large.[1] This evolving opportunity needs to be effectively harnessed by the Indian research community, which, in turn, would benefit Indians at large.


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