FDI welcomes WHO resolution on COVID-19 but highlights the need to protect dental teams

FDI network_WHO Director-General Dr Tedros

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros addresses a virtual audience at the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA73) was held virtually from 18–19 May 2020, with an abridged agenda. Civil society organizations, such as FDI, were given the opportunity to submit statements in advance and could not give verbal updates. FDI submitted the following statement under Agenda Item 3: Address by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General on the COVID-19 pandemic response.

WHO World Health Assembly 73 (WHA73)
Agenda Item 3: Address by Dr Tedros, Director-General on the Covid-19
Pandemic (A73/3)

FDI World Dental Federation (FDI), representing 200 national dental associations and over one million dentists, welcomes the resolution on the COVID-19 response. To support member states in mitigating the impact of the pandemic and help in planning and preparing for the recovery phase, as well as strengthen preparedness for health emergencies, we recommend:

1. Civil society organizations such as FDI are part of the solution and our expertise and knowledge is leveraged: we are carrying out a global survey to understand the current
guidance, initiatives and resources related to dentistry and oral health during the COVID-19 outbreak. The data collected aims to assist national-level responses to the crisis, inform best practices related to infection prevention and control, the redeployment of staff and
reconfiguration of dental practices.

2. WHO provides technical guidance for dental practice: as dental procedures may generate a large number of droplets and aerosols, the standard protective measures in daily clinical work are not effective enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Coordinated action to ensure the security of the supply chain of adequate, appropriate and affordable personal protective equipment, is therefore, urgently needed. Scientific investigation is also needed to understand the real risk of aerosols in the dental setting, as well as the role of diagnosis and immunological tests for a safer dental practice environment.

3. Continued access to care is secured and health promotion and prevention measures are strengthened: prevention, early detection and treatment are key to avoiding an even bigger burden on health systems in the future. We must therefore ensure that vulnerable populations get the care they need, without further delay, to avoid unnecessary pain, suffering or even early death. This includes people: currently not covered by healthcare systems, namely refugees and displaced persons; living with disabilities or having other specific needs; considered high risk, including the elderly and those living with NCDs. At the same time, we must use the opportunity to highlight prevention strategies that can avoid people needing treatment at all, avoiding a burden on health systems.

The statement may be downloaded directly from the FDI website.

About the World Health Assembly 

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO and is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and, thanks to FDI’s official relations status with the United Nations, FDI leverages this meeting by delivering statements to influence global policies and commitments on oral health.


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