FDI at the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA) reception

December 15, 2011

The next stage, which IFPMA has agreed to support, is to test and assess the NCD Toolkit in the field, that is, to answer the question: can health practitioners around the world use it in their daily work to educate patients on the risks of behaviours and to assess their current exposure to NCDs. 

My speech at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) reception, held in Geneva last 1st December:

Thank you for your kind invitation: it is indeed a great pleasure to be here today to address and touch base with IFPMA, one of FDI’s most valued partners and friends.

Last time I spoke to you was on 7 July, at the very well attended IFPMA reception during ECOSOC at the United Nations. That, of course, was also an early stage of what turned out to be a highly successful and visible campaign on noncommunicable diseases.

From left, Eduardo Pisani, IFPMA director general, and David Brennan, IFPMA president and CEO of AstraZeneca.

From left, Eduardo Pisani, IFPMA director general, and David Brennan, IFPMA president and CEO of AstraZeneca.

It was particularly important for FDI to lead the NCD campaign: it meant we could help our partners in the World Health Professions Alliance in their efforts to accomplish goals in the field of public health.

For FDI, it meant that we could achieve a long-standing need—and personal goal of mine—to better integrate dental medicine into the general practice of medicine. This is particularly important in NCDs where dentists will be called upon to play a key role identifying tell-tale signs of high risk behaviour, such as tobacco use, as well as early signs of chronic illness.

In effect, practitioners in oral health are one of the few medical professions that patients visit routinely for a check-up and whose work involves visual inspection of the mouth and gums

In addition, as IFPMA and its members well know, saliva testing is becoming increasingly used as a means of disease diagnosis and monitoring, due to its convenience, accuracy and non-invasive nature – and, once again, dental practitioners are in privileged position.

Just to recapitulate, the campaign itself involved two major processes: the first was educational and included the development of a health improvement scorecard and scorecard user manuals targeting health professionals, on the one hand, and patients and public, on the other.

I think we all agree that the resulting product was pleasing to the eye, conveniently packaged, and well-conceived in terms of content and usability.

We will know the answers to those questions during the next few months of field testing.

The other part of the campaign was to launch the toolkit prior to and during the United Nations Summit on NCDs in New York. We did the launch in three places and in my presence, although my presence at the Geneva event was via a recorded message!

Both I and former FDI President addressed some 40 participants at a media launch in Mexico City. The location was aptly chosen because WHO had already held a high-level regional consultation of the Americas on NCDs in February of this year, which meant the media were already sensitized to the issue.

Finally, the toolkit was presented at number of side events held during the UN Summit itself, including the event ‘Putting the teeth into NCDs’ sponsored by the Republic of Tanzania, Australia and Sweden – and, of course, the IFPMA reception, held at the United Kingdom Mission to the UN in New York.

Further, I was able to introduce WHPA and the Toolkit as a prime example of inter-professional collaboration on NCDs during two of the parallel sessions at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health last October in Rio.

One of the sessions was moderated by Jorge Venegas, Ministry of Health of Uruguay; the other, in the presence of Dr. José Luiz Amaral, President-Elect of the World Medical Association, was entitled ‘the Changing the role of public health’.

These have been exciting times and, from the point of view of FDI, an excellent opportunity to promote our product and consolidate our working relationship with IFPMA.

For our part, we very much look forward to the field testing, to be carried out jointly with our WHPA partners – and of course, to our continued excellent relations with our friends at IFPMA.

Thank you for your attention!

WHPA: Non Communicable Diseases

July 11, 2011
With Eduardo Pisani, Director General of IFPMA, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations

Me with Eduardo Pisani, Director General of IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations)

By invitation of the IFPMA – International Federation of Pharmaceutical manufacturers and Associations, I had the pleasure of participating as speaker representing the World Health Professional Alliance (WHPA) at the United Nations – Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC “Innovation Fair”, on 7 July in Geneva. The Fair run parallel to the ECOSOC High-level Segment.

ifpma-logoThe theme was Education for Non Communicable Diseases. I’m sharing a part of my communication, provided by FDI – World Dental Federation Head office Geneva, to a selected audience, acknowledging in particular Eduardo Pisani, moderator and Director General of IFPMA.

FDI President-Elect – brief address to ECOSOC – 7 July 2011

Your excellencies
Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words on behalf of the World Health Professions Alliance, representing the views of more than 26 million health professionals. These professionals play a significant role in reducing the global NCD burden through health promotion, disease prevention, patient care and rehabilitation.

One theme of this ECOSOC event is ‘Education for All’: we might equally say ‘health for all’. Health education or health literacy, as we call it, is so tightly related to education: whether it’s basic literacy, to read instructions on medications, or the ability to understand and use the information provided by the medical professional.

Health education will play an extremely important role as policy makers and professionals try to grapple with one of today’s major challenges: the global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs, as they are known. What we need is education, education for the professional, to communicate better, listen better, and education for the patient: how to interpret the advice of the health professional.

WHPA is currently involved in a project to develop and deliver some educational and communication tools to convey important messages to members of the general public on the subject.

Although social and environment factors play an important role in NCDs, our own behaviour can have a significant. The educational messages WHPA is developing are based on prevention: don’t smoke, or if you do, give up; limit your consumption of alcohol, eat healthy food, exercise and check your health from time to time with a health professional for danger signal.

These are easy messages, you may think, yet messages that encounter resistance not just from individuals but from the industries that promote and encourage, for example, smoking or unhealthy food. The important point we want to convey is personal responsibility for health through the choices we make and through our own behaviour. This will be a crucial factor in the fight against NCDs.

The other part of the WHPA campaign is to ensure that our views on preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases are heard by the major international institutions and reflected in the various declarations from international gatherings convened to discuss NCDs.

Our next target is the UN Summit convened in New York on 19 September. We have already provided input and we very much hope that our views translate into specific terminology that addresses our concerns in the Summit Declaration. What we recommended was:

  • Adopting an holistic approach based on common risk factors;
  • That due attention be paid to the social determinants of health;
  • To widen the scope of NCDs and associated recommendations to include oral health and mental health
  • Investment in the development and education of the healthcare workforce.

We also believe very much in the need to strengthen health care systems through a holistic health care system, with a focus on primary health care and strong link to prevention, specialized treatment and rehabilitation

I would like to close my remarks by quoting a colleague of mine who highlighted education in school as an effective vehicle to address noncommunicable diseases. Education on health in school reaches children at an age when they are still receptive about behaviour change and to acquire lifelong skills to enable them to lead healthy lives.

As a dentist, I would like also the role of oral health in the context of NCDs: the most common disease worldwide is tooth decay. It has large impact on societies, on children, on each an every one of us. Oral health also has significant co-factors with the other major NCDs. So, in educational programmes dedicated to the control and prevention of NCDs, let’s make sure we include oral diseases.