When I took office as FDI President two years ago at the meeting of the General Assembly in Mexico City, I made a commitment to leave FDI in a stronger position and reinforce its reputation as a reliable, trustworthy and credible partner to our members, stakeholders, the industry and partners.
By joining hands in the pursuit of these goals, we have been able overcome the heavy challenges of recent times and can at last perceive on the horizon a glimmer of hope and enthusiasm. This is due to the Council, the Executive Committee, the FDI staff under the leadership of the Executive Director, and volunteers both within and external to the Committees, all working together with the same passion and commitment to succeed.
In my role as FDI ambassador, communicating the ethical and practical messages of FDI among its members and stakeholders around the world, I have been touched by the enthusiasm of my hosts in 30 countries or more for the work of FDI and their commitment to the values of the dental profession. It is this energy and enthusiasm that helped me accomplish what I set out to do.
In concrete terms, FDI has made measurable achievements in a number of areas over the past 12 months. The ones I would like to highlight here are Vision 2020, the FDI Strategy for Africa, our global partnership with Unilever, our success in the field of dental materials and its immediate results, and, finally, World Oral Health 2013.
Following last year’s adoption of Vision 2020, a revised version was published in the International Dental Journal. At a meeting in Chicago in February, a decision was made to move into Phase II in two specific areas, data collection/oral health indicators and collaborative practice. We have managed to gain some industry financing for this initial stage. We had a meeting in June to lay the groundwork of for moving forward in these two areas.
June of this year saw the publication of FDI’s Strategy for Africa, in reality not only a strategy but also a list of activities to be undertaken by Africa-based NDAs and by FDI. The published statement was the result of a summit in Cape Town in November 2012, which included group and break out sessions, and reached a true consensus on the way forward.
We continue to score successes with our global Live. Learn. Laugh. Partnership with Unilever Oral Care, now in Phase II and involving 27 countries. The meeting for 2013 took place in Athens, where all the participants were able to report the latest developments. Phase II, as you are probably already aware, has a more particular focus on data collection and analysis.
One of the major successes in 2013 was ensuring the continued availability of dental amalgam by ensuring its phase-down, rather than phase-out in the Minamata Convention, the international treaty on mercury to be signed in October in Minamata, Japan. This success was due to a concerted effort by FDI, IADR and with the support of the Oral Health Programme of WHO over a three-year negotiating period, launched in 2010.
In return, the dental community had promised a concerted effort in the field of prevention and reduction of dental amalgam impact. I am happy to report that, in collaboration with UNEP, WHO, IDM, we have already move into the implementation phase with a pilot project on dental waste management in East Africa.
Finally, I would like to draw the General Assembly’s attention to the success of World Oral Health Day 2013. We had no illusions that 20 March would be celebrated everywhere, especially considering the change of date from 12 September: in fact, it is unlikely that we would ever achieve a 100% alignment around the world. What we did achieve was a sustained worldwide effort and a group of case studies as we encourage more and more countries to join us in the coming years. 36 countries is about one fifth of the world’s nations: it’s already an important beginning.
To close, I would like to salute the reports from the Treasurer and the Executive Director demonstrating progress over the past year both in the performance of the Geneva office and the good news of returning to surplus, ending a series of disappointing financial results. It reflects well on all of us that, once the alert was given, we immediately adapted our work and style of living to the new realities.
For the future, my message is that FDI should pursue its long-established role as advocate for oral health combined with compatible diplomacy, uniting the profession and working collaboratively with other oral health specialists and health professions.
I personally stand ready to continue my engagement with FDI World Dental Federation as a passionate and committed fan of its work and achievements. I would like conclude by thanking my colleagues in Portugal and Portuguese speaking countries, especially of the Portuguese Dental Association, Ordem dos Médicos Dentistas, for their support throughout my term as FDI President.
Orlando Monteiro da Silva
FDI President (2011-2013)