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News Europe

Dr Kathryn Kell is the new president of the FDI World Dental Federation. (Photograph: DTI)
0 Comments Aug 31, 2017 | News Europe

Interview: “Make sure that our members have all the right tools to serve the public”

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At the end of this year’s FDI World Dental Congress, Dr Kathryn Kell will begin her term as the new President of the FDI. Dental Tribune Online sat down with her here in Madrid to talk about her role, her personal challenges and what she considers to be the main areas in which the organisation should engage over the next two years.

Dental Tribune Online: Dr Kell, where do you see the main challenges in dentistry right now and with regard to your position as President of the FDI?
Dr Kathryn Kell: One of our greatest challenges remains having oral health considered part of overall health. With our new oral health definition, we can show how it relates to all aspects of health. The next step of this is to collect data to establish the actual situation worldwide. The next phase is then utilising this data once we have collected it. What is the incidence of periodontal disease in a country compared with another country? What is the prevalence of caries? Is sugar an issue? What countries have the capacity to fluoridate water and is that actually put into effect? There are many challenges ahead, including access to oral health care.

However, we are not investigating specifics only, but how these issues affect people’s lives, such as poor oral health affecting one’s job, love life or general well-being. Overall well-being is our focus, rather than narrowing down statistics like the extent of caries per mouth. We are seeking to put together certain determinants of oral health so that we have data that we can compare around the world.

What other areas should the FDI further engage in?
We are a membership organisation, and as president, I want to make sure that we serve this membership. Our overall strategy centres around membership, advocacy and knowledge transfer, and our membership is involved in all the three.

Our members expect us to be good advocates for oral health on a national and international level through partnerships with other organisations. We want to be able to influence the agendas of ministries of health so that countries who need help can get it. Our ultimate goal with advocacy is to put oral health on the programmes of our member countries, as well as internationally.

Regarding knowledge transfer, the focus is how we can communicate information to our members to become better practitioners and to obtain the knowledge that they need on products, standards, procedures and the ways we can serve our patients better. In general, we want to make sure that our members have all the right tools to serve the public.

Leading the FDI is a commendable and challenging job. What are your personal goals regarding your new position?
One of the challenges on a personal level will be the travel required. I have already received many requests to present in person what the FDI is offering. Our members feel it is important to have that personal connection, for someone from the FDI to address their members. They want direct communication. Over the next two years, I hope we will continue to develop further in this regard.

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