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India needs dental health leadership, says expert

India needs a dental health chief to give leadership and implement the ambitious global plan to eradicate dental caries among children by 2026, says a British expert//.

"If we are going to implement the WHO's Global Child Dental Health Taskforce programme in India to eradicate tooth caries problem among children in the next 20 years, we need a good dental leadership," said Professor Raman Bedi, director of the global taskforce.

"We need good leadership at both the national and state level," Bedi, who was chief dental officer in Britain from October 2002 to October 2005, told IANS.

Indian-born Bedi was co-chair of the first meeting of the national taskforce held here earlier this week.

"All the taskforce members, including the Dental Council of India, shared the view that the Indian government should appoint a chief dental officer just like there is a director general of health service. Majority of countries have a chief dental officer," said Bedi.

Stating that the national taskforce will be making a recommendation for appointment of a chief dental officer in the health ministry, which has very little focus on dental health problem, Bedi underlined the need to promote awareness on the importance of oral health.

"Not many realise that oral health is linked closely with overall health? particularly heart disease. It can cause pain during pregnancy and for nursing mothers. India needs to plan now for a healthy population and not just a rich population," said Bedi.

India is one of the 10 countries participating in the first phase of the Global Child Dental Health Taskforce, launched in Britain last year in September. The other countries are the US, Mexico, Brazil, Britain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, the Philippines and Australia.

After India, Bedi will be holding taskforce meetings in other countries to draw up a strategy plan for eradication of tooth decay problem among child
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