Engaging the world’s nurses in addressing chronic disease through oral health

03 Jan 2022
Elisabeth Morgans

Engaging the world’s nurses in addressing chronic disease through oral health


In May 2021 the World Health Assembly passed a resolution urging Member States to address key risk factors of oral diseases shared with other chronic diseases (also called non-communicable diseases or NCDs), such as high intake of free sugars, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The resolution mandates WHO to enhance the capacities of oral health professionals, while also recommending a shift away from traditional ‘curative’ approaches, towards prevention in family, schools, and workplaces settings, as well as in primary health care. WHO is asked to develop a draft global strategy on tackling oral diseases for consideration in 2022, and to translate that strategy into an action plan and recommend “best buy” interventions by 2023.

In 1985, WHO’s Director General said: If the millions of nurses in a thousand different places articulate the same ideas and convictions…….and come together as one force, they could act as a powerhouse for change


Convening the key nurse movers and shakers

As part of this crucial work in preventing oral disease, C3 has convened a global group of nurse experts to discuss the issue of oral health, disease prevention, and the role of nurses. C3 was delighted to work with Guyana-born Professor Cynthia Pine CBE, the first woman to be Dean of a British Dental School, and Stephen Ogweno, a nurse and population health expert, living in Kenya, who has worked with WHO and the World Dental Federation. Cynthia and Stephen kicked-off the meetings by setting the scene and clearly outlining the incredible impact of nurses in this often-overlooked area of health. The global group of nurse experts – from 14 countries and spanning four continents – provided lively, inspiring discussion by sharing real-life examples of oral health disease prevention (or lack of it!) between countries and continents, and ideas for policy and practice, and what needs to happen next.


ICN Congress 2021

In Autumn 2021 C3 facilitated a symposium recorded for ICN Congress – the most prestigious global event in the nursing calendar – held virtually in November 2021. The symposium was sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, facilitated by Christine Hancock and featured presentations from Cynthia Pine and Stephen Ogweno as well as from Colgate-Palmolive’s Vice President and Chief Dental Officer, Dr Maria Ryan, and Vice President, Global Public Health & Scientific Affairs, Dr Gillian Barclay. To date, the symposium has received just under 200 total views and the average time spent engaged is 51 minutes 28 seconds – an extremely encouraging result for a 53-minute recording. The symposium will remain accessible on the ICN platform until May 2022.


Next steps

Key themes identified from the meetings with global nurse experts were around the need for education, advocacy, research, and public private partnerships. In 2022 C3 will be facilitating more discussions with key nurse leaders to generate and refine ideas for change – so that nurses may play a key role in oral disease prevention. Register for our newsletter to keep up to date about this project and more.

World Oral Health Day is March 20th, 2022, there is time for action before the World Health Assembly!


This work is made possible with support from Colgate-Palmolive Company.

Interested in learning more about C3’s projects with health professionals? View our health professionals’ portfolio.