For those of us engaged in global oral health initiatives, the Oral Health Resolution that was proposed by the WHO in January 2021 marked a very important moment and was mentioned in an earlier blog post. Many of the recommended actions resonated strongly with the direction of travel being followed by the Malawi Government Oral Health Policy Task Force.
On 27th May 2021, at the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly (WHA), the Oral Health Resolution was approved. Delegates asked WHO to develop a strategy on tackling oral diseases and to translate the global strategy into an action plan for oral health. You can read more of the detail here.
It was especially fitting for the MalDent Project that the Malawi Government was invited to make a statement at the WHA, which read as follows:MALAWI-STATMENT-ON-NCDS-ORAL-WHA-73
By coincidence, a close to final draft of Malawi’s forthcoming Oral Health Policy was being reviewed by Task Force members and other Government stakeholders at a workshop in Mangochi on 27th-29th May 2021, with the aim of producing a final, polished document ready for presentation to the Ministry of Health Technical Working Group. The workshop delegates are pictured below:
The photo shows (left to right):
Dr James Mchenga ( Academic Lead, KUHeS Dental School)
Dr Michael Udedi (Assistant Director – Clinical Services for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at MOH)
Miss Annie Mwapasa (Administrator, MalDent Project at KUHeS Dental School)
Mr Brian Chaima (Principal Economist, Real Sector Policy Analysis Section, Ministry of Economic Planning and Development)
Miss Yacinta Phiri, in front of Brian (Economist, Planning and Policy Department, MOH)
Dr. Martha Chipanda (Head of Dental Department, Mzuzu Central Hospital)
Mr. Noel Kasomekera, behind Martha (Technical Assistant-NCD Unit at MOH)
Mr. Daniel Ntengula (Economist, Planning and Policy Department, MOH)
Ms. Gloria Kadangwe, behind Daniel (Administrative Assistant for Dean of Medicine at KUHeS)
Dr. Wiston Mukiwa (Clinical Lecturer at KUHeS Dental School and Secretary at DAM)
Dr. Peter Chimimba (Team lead and Coordinator of MalDent Project at KUHeS Dental School)
Dr. Jones Kaponda Masiye ( Deputy Director Clinical Services – NCD at MOH)
The team at the meeting worked hard to finesse the draft Oral Health Policy (Version 8) that had been produced by the Oral Health Policy Task Force and which had been informed by the Concept Paper, Narrative Review and Situation Analysis previously reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health Technical Working Group. This last push allowed a final polishing to ensure that the version of the Oral Health Policy that would be presented to the Technical Working Group would satisfy all the relevant editorial and formatting requirements of the Malawi Government.
The hard work was interspersed with occasional refreshment breaks!
The next stage will be a review of the final draft by all members of the Oral Health Policy Task Force before consideration by the Ministry of Health Technical Working Group and eventual sign-off by the Secretary for Health and the Minister of Health.
Annex 1 of the Oral Health Policy will be the Implementation Plan, which is followed by Annex 2, the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. As with any policy, it is the implementation which is both the most important element but also the most challenging. However, if the energy and commitment of the Task Force to date are anything to go by, the momentum will continue as Malawi pushes forward with its oral health improvement agenda, in line with the WHO Oral Health Resolution.