Delegates at the International Federation of Dental Hygienists’ Global Oral Health meeting

The Irish Dental Hygienists Association (IDHA) has been tasked with developing a new social responsibility oral health programme for Ireland.

Plans began at the International Federation of Dental Hygienists’ (IFDH) Global Oral Health Strategy Session, Social Responsibility Conference in Florence, Italy on 7 and 8 July 2017.

The two-day conference was the second phase of the IFDH Social Responsibility programme, and brought together experts in prevention programmes and health literacy to help delegates develop action plans for social responsibility programmes within their respective countries and worldwide.

Plans for Ireland

Donna Paton, president of the IDHA, explains: ‘We were proud to be represented by two of our members at this global event [Catherine Waldron and Sviatlana Anischuck].

‘Our association now has a mission to design a social responsibility oral health programme in Ireland over the next two years, which will ultimately involve our members volunteering their time and expertise.

‘The programme will be designed, implemented and evaluated based on evidence from successful international projects. It needs to be self-funding and will therefore be supported through sponsorship.

‘It is likely that our programme will focus on two of the most underserved populations in relation to preventive oral health: young children and institutionalised older people.

‘The lack of government funding in dental care for both of these groups has been well publicised, and I would like to see our association make a difference and help the most vulnerable in our society.’

Going global

The meeting was attended by worldwide leaders in the area of social responsibility, and representatives from 20 IFDH country association members, including Ireland, all with the aim of improving health worldwide.

IFDH president Robyn Watson welcomed the group to the meeting, adding: ‘It is a great pleasure to see the realisation of our efforts in bringing together experts from around the world to help us create projects, develop leaders, and change the emphasis of oral health care to prevention. This is the beginning of our journey.’

The next element of the programme will include a workshop and poster presentations at the 2019 International Symposium on Dental Hygiene where representatives from countries who have implemented social responsibility programmes will provide information concerning the outcomes of their programmes.