“Oral diseases are among the most common diseases of human kind. And the most neglected,” says Dr. John S. Greenspan, Associate Dean for Global Oral Health at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in a short YouTube video. “We actually have an epidemic of dental decay, particularly among underserved populations.”
Recognizing this problem, the UCSF School of Dentistry has made improving global oral health a priority, as announced in its 2010 strategic plan. One step in that direction was establishing the Global Oral Health program, led by Greenspan. The program, says Greenspan, is “a robust new initiative to greatly expand global health collaboration among those seeking to understand and effectively address oral health challenges.” Its mission is to improve oral and craniofacial health worldwide.
In May, the Global Oral Health Program hosted a day-long symposium at UCSF to bring attention to the issue.
“Inequalities experienced in earlier life can have a critical bearing on the health status of people throughout their lives,” said speaker David Williams, PhD, BDS, MSc, FRCPath, recent president of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). He noted that poor oral health can even affect employment opportunities.
The goals for the UCSF Global Oral Health program include building, strengthening and coordinating activities in global oral health, along with development and support of programs of excellence in global oral health sciences and international health within the School of Dentistry, interacting with UCSF campus, the University of California as a whole, and other initiatives in global health.
Dr. Greenspan is organizing a session on Integrating Oral Health Into Global Health for the 2011 CUGH annual conference, November 13-15 in Montreal.