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A conversation with Prathip Phantumvanit

Former Dean of Faculty of Dentistry, Thammasat University, Thailand

In 2019, I was invited to participate the International Symposium of DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health at University of Washington, under Director Dr. Ana L. Seminario. This meeting reminded me of my involvement with Oral Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) which I have served as an Expert Panelist on Oral Health for many years. The official meeting of WHO includes expert participants from many regional offices and, in many occasions, I was invited as representative of the Southeast Asia Regional Office where Thailand is an active member.

Oral Health ClinicIn the past decade, one of the activities of the WHO is to provide consultants to developing countries worldwide. I had the privilege to be short-term consultant for oral health in a few countries such as Dental education and dental public health in Laos PDR, and Myanmar; De-fluoridation to prevent fluorosis in Tanzania, India, and Sri Lanka; Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) for appropriate dental restorations in Bhutan, Indonesia, and Syria. It was necessary to study the local health and oral health system and situation in advance, as well as seek the advice of local authorities during the visit. First-hand information about the people through direct dialogue was key input for the WHO consultants to develop a practical oral health plan with appropriate technology. My latest activities with the WHO was involvement in the Myanmar First National Oral Health Survey in 2016, followed by using collected data for planning the National Oral Health Strategy in 2018. Then in 2019, the Ministry of Health and Sport organized the WHO Regional side-meeting with the Asian Chief Dental Officers Meeting (ACDOM) in Mandalay, Myanmar.

Communication is much faster now through internet and international meetings, both face-to-face and virtual. But regional experts are still needed to share their experiences with well-known faculty members from highly developed countries. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SGD), health and oral health goals needs to be designed to suit the local as well as global development. The balance between high-ended advanced and appropriate technology must be carefully considered for many developing countries to be economically feasible, and acceptable to achieve better oral health of the people worldwide.

I am excited to learn that the DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health at University of Washington has projects in many continents such as Thailand, Kenya, and Peru. I sincerely believe that the DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health will be the focal point to develop oral health experts for better oral health globally, under the leadership of Prof. Timothy A DeRouen as Chair of the Board of Directors and former Dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Washington.

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