Proceedings From First International Symposium on Global Oral Health, Seattle (2018)

Inter-Professional Healthcare: Adding Oral Health to Interdisciplinary Global Health Projects Worldwide

Global inequalities in the distribution of and access to care for oral diseases represent unresolved societal burdens. The research team at the University of Washington (UW) Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health believes that in order to address oral health globally it needs to be integrated in larger settings that impact the overall health of our communities. The UW DeRouen Center’s first symposium on global oral health entitled “Inter-professional Healthcare: Adding Oral Health to Interdisciplinary Global Health Projects Worldwide” aimed to provide the appropriate setting for global oral health research beyond focusing solely on oral health.

The Symposium took place on July 31st, 2018. It was funded by NIDCR, ARCORA Foundation, and the UW Departments of Pediatric Dentistry and Global Health. The symposium was strategically planned to include keynote speakers from each DeRouen Center project site. The first speaker was Dr. Waranuch Pitiphat, DDS, PhD., Dean of the School of Dentistry at Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand, and Co-PI of our NIH Fogarty Grant for faculty development in South East Asia. For the last 15 years and with NIH funding, she has dedicated her work to the academic development of Thai oral and craniofacial researchers. Her lecture was entitled “Faculty Development: The Impact of NIH Funding on the Training of Thai Research Leaders”.

The second keynote speaker was Dr. Jorge Luis Castillo, DDS, PhD, Professor at the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia, Affiliate Professor from the University of Washington and past President of the International Association of Pediatric Dentistry. He is a dual-trained pediatric dentist from the University of Connecticut and orthodontist from the University of Washington. Dr. Castillo has collaborated with us on several grants, including 2 workshops funded by NIH Fogarty. His lecture was entitled “From the Andes to the Amazon: Connecting the Peruvian oral research community to NIH”.

Dr. Arthur Kemoli, BDS, PhD, served as the third keynote speaker at the symposium. Dr. Kemoli is the Chair of Paediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at the University of Nairobi. He received his BDS from the University of Nairobi and worked for the Governments of Kenya and Zimbabwe as a regional health officer. He holds a diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, MSc (Paediatric Dentistry) and PhD (Paediatric Dentistry) from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Dr. Kemoli is a collaborator on the Kenyan Pediatric Studies research project, an NIH series of R01 grants on HIV research in Kenya. His lecture was entitled “Advocating for HIV Research in Children and Adolescents: The AFRICA Project”.

The fourth speaker, Dr. Joseph Zunt, MD, MPH, works as a Professor of Neurology and Global Health at the University of Washington. He is the PI of three Fogarty-funded global health training programs: the NIH Fogarty Northern Pacific Global Health Fellows Program Consortium; the Kuskaya Innovations in Global Health; and the Interdisciplinary Cerebrovascular Training Program in South America. He is also Chair of the Family Medicine Global Health Fellowship External Advisory Board, and member of the Department of Global Health Curriculum Advisory Group, Global Health Pathway Working Group and Internal Medicine Residency Global Health Advisory Group. His lecture was entitled “Oral Health is Relevant to Global Health: Existing Opportunities through Fogarty Fellows and Scholars”.

The fifth and final speaker of the first Global Oral Health Symposium was Florencia Vasta, Associate Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential charitable organization in the world. The Foundation’s headquarters are located in Seattle, and it funds several projects in collaboration with the University of Washington. It is highly relevant to create networking with this important stakeholder. Ms. Vasta’s presentation was entitled “Nutrition, Global Development Program: “Investing in Nutrition is Investing in Global Health”.

Through all presentations, a variety of global oral health issues were discussed. Challenges addressed during the Global Oral Health Symposium included but were not limited to fundamental gaps in knowledge and understanding of the multifactorial components related to oral health, lack of priorities developed with input and active participation from the communities in need, and limited research in implementation and integration sciences related to global oral health programs. The symposium aimed to propose strategies to integrate oral and craniofacial research in interdisciplinary collaborations by showcasing past and current worldwide research projects, and to generate new opportunities for collaboration in global oral health by targeting colleagues beyond dentistry for collaborative participation. The symposium fostered the creation of a pipeline of future leaders in global oral health research by exposing current dental pre-, post-doc students and fellows to global health, and exposing current general and public health pre-, post-doc students and fellows to oral and craniofacial research.

The symposium was strategically designed to provide opportunities for learning, finding new lines of research and networking. Social activities and poster presentations allowed for one-on-one exchanges of ideas, learning experiences, and discussions with professionals about their work in global health. In addition, each keynote speaker led a discussion at the lunch-and-learn gathering with both undergraduate and post-graduate students. No registration fees were charged, and all participants were enrolled until the auditorium capacity was reached.

Over 120 individuals registered for the symposium and about 650 individuals followed the event live via Facebook. Because we wanted to raised awareness on global oral health issues, we posted the video recordings online (Facebook). The recordings were watched by more than 1,100 individuals reaching more than 4,000 individuals all over the world. Because of the interest this symposium created, it is our goal to continue generating research networking by organizing this event every other year.