Oral health in focus at recent European Union debate
BRUSSELS, Belgium: On 9 October, the Council of European Dentists (CED) and eight other European Union umbrella health organisations held a debate regarding the health policy changes the EU will face in the coming years. Under the title “EU 2019–2024: Health champions wanted”, the debate brought topics such as universal access to high-quality and sustainable healthcare, disease prevention and the fight against cross-border healthcare threats into focus.
Hosting the debate were Drs Peter Liese and Sara Cerdas, members of the European Parliament. “My ambition is to have health in all policies, and for strong health policies we need discuss together what we want and how can we achieve a healthier Europe. This debate is an excellent opportunity to share visions with different stakeholders and define how we can address the main public health challenges,” noted Cerdas.
In his speech, titled “Prevention of non-communicable diseases: Oral health and beyond”, Dr Marco Landi, President of the CED, said: “Oral conditions, including dental caries, periodontal disease and oral cancer, affect almost four billion people, more than half of the world’s population, and present an enormous burden on health systems and societies. In 2010, the cost of treating oral diseases and the loss of productivity were estimated at US$442 billion.”
Addressing some of the public health issues within dentistry, Landi noted that “European countries still devote only a fraction of their healthcare budgets to overall prevention—on average 3.0%, which translates to 0.2% of GDP [gross domestic product]”. Expanding on that, Landi said it was important that there was political vision and leadership at an EU level and that “we need a comprehensive and integrated approach to health, and we need to all work together”.
Collaboration was a key topic that featured throughout the debate. A statement released by the CED said that the EU health community believes that, when working together, the member states of the EU can add genuine value to national efforts to improve the effectiveness of health systems and deliver patient-centred care to their communities.