Global Oral Health Symposium 2012 Draws International Experts

UCSF Takes Leading Role in Improving Global Health

UCSF School of Dentistry's Global Oral Health Symposium 2012 repeated and expanded on the success of last year's inaugural event, bringing greater visibility to vital oral health issues worldwide, and the extraordinary international effort to address them.

UCSF School of Dentistry faculty talk about global oral health.

From top, Elizabeth Mertz, UCSF School of Dentistry; Caroline Shiboski, UCSF School of Dentistry and John S. Greenspan, associate dean for Global Oral Health, UCSF School of Dentistry; Peter Loomer, UCSF School of Dentistry, and Tao Xu, Peking University, School of Stomatology; Greenspan, Benjamin Chaffee, UCSF School of Dentistry, and John D.B. Featherstone, dean, UCSF School of Dentistry; Xu, Susan A. Fisher-Owens, UCSF School of Medicine.

Nearly 100 campus and visiting participants — including some from China, Germany and India — attended the second annual Global Oral Health Day and Symposium at UCSF on April 23.

"This second event confirms UCSF’s leading role on global oral health," says John S. Greenspan, BSC, BDS, PhD, associate dean for Global Oral Health at UCSF, which aims to improve oral and craniofacial health worldwide.

Named to lead UCSF's Global Oral Health program in October 2010, Greenspan is working to build, strengthen and coordinate activities in global oral health, develop and support programs of excellence in global oral health sciences and international health within the school, and interact with UCSF campus, systemwide and other initiatives in global health through educational, research and public service programs.

This year's symposium, themed “Workforce Issues for Global Oral Health,” featured a keynote speech by Jaime Sepulveda, MD, MPH, DrSc, director of Global Health Sciences, who discussed the Lancet Commission's November 2010 report on the education of health professionals.

The Lancet Commission report, was critical of the state of professional health education today, which it found to be "fragmented, outdated, and static curricula that produce ill-equipped graduates."

"That is why this Commission, consisting of 20 professional and academic leaders from diverse countries, came together to develop a shared vision and a common strategy for postsecondary education in medicine, nursing, and public health that reaches beyond the confines of national borders and the silos of individual professions. The Commission adopted a global outlook, a multiprofessional perspective, and a systems approach," the report states.

UCSF Global Health Sciences (GHS) is also taking a global outlook to improve the education of health professionals and address health disparities. Last September, GHS hosted a symposium, "Transforming Health Education Globally," which coincided with Sepulveda's first week at UCSF and built on the initiatives conceived at a 2007 forum that he led at UCSF.

Sepulveda wants to make global health an integral part of interprofessional health education and to boost support for the institutions that educate health professionals in other countries. "GHS is poised to take on an increasingly important role in this effort, in the same way that UCSF and San Francisco have been renowned for 30 years for the world-class model they developed to combat HIV/AIDS," Sepulveda said in the GHS Annual Report. [PDF]

Addressing Oral Health Around the Globe

Dean Tao Xu of Peking University's School of Stomatology explored recent changes and future trends in oral health in China. Daniel Davidson, DMD, president of the California Dental Association (CDA), discussed the November 2011 CDA report on access to care.

Research shows that nearly 10 million Californians — including low-income children, the elderly and people with disabilities — face barriers to accessing the dental care they need, the CDA report states. "Barriers are multi-factorial, influenced by economics, culture, education and geography — a complex problem with no single solution."

The CDA's report, "Phased Strategies for Reducing the Barriers to Dental Care in California," [PDF] outlines a three-phased approach, each with multiple recommendations to establish state orgal health leadership, focus on prevention and early intervention for children and an innovative dental delivery system to expand capacity in California.

And Habib Benzian from Germany, senior advisor of Fit for School in the Philippines and director of the Health Bureau Global Health Consultants, shared broad insights into global oral care workforce issues.

UCSF speakers were Peter Loomer, DDS, PhD, a professor of periodontology in the UCSF Department of Orofacial Sciences, and Susan Fisher-Owens, MD, MPH, an assistant clinical professor in the UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics.

Bruce Donoff, DMD, MD, dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, oriented the group to the program in global oral health that he is building at Harvard.

Following the panel discussion that concluded the day, UCSF School of Dentistry's Caroline Shibosk, DDS, MPH, PhD, a professor in the Department of Orofacial Sciences, was recognized with the Faculty Award for Achievement in Global Oral Health, and UCSF Dentistry Graduate Program DDS/PhD student Benjamin Chaffee was recognized with the Student Award for Achievement in Global Oral Health.

Related Link:

UCSF Dentistry | Global Oral Health

Photos by David Hand