Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maryland Dental Action Coalition Launches 5-Year Oral Health Plan

On May 17, the Maryland Dental Acton Coalition proudly presented a 5-year (2011-2015) state plan to promote the oral health of all Marylanders. The plan addresses Maryland’s most critical oral health needs and capitalizes on available resources and data.

Speaking at the celebratory launch event is The Honorable Elijah Cummings, U.S. Congress, a long time supporter of oral health access for children in Maryland and across the United States. Also speaking are Delegate Keith Haynes, Maryland General Assembly, Renee Cohen on behalf of the Honorable Ben Cardin, U.S. Congress, Josh Sharfstein, Secretary, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Joseph and Madeline Misero, Katrina Holt, Chair, MDAC Maryland Oral Health Plan Committee, and Beth Lowe, Chair, MDAC. Also speaking is Ralph Fuccillo, President of the DentaQuest Foundation, which provided start up grant funds to MDAC.

Maryland has become a national model in improving the oral health of its citizens over the last decade. The roots of this process go back to 2007, following the untimely death of a 12-year old Maryland child from an untreated dental infection. A statewide Dental Action Committee (DAC) was convened by John M. Colmers, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), with a specific charge to make recommendations to improve access to oral health care for vulnerable (disadvantaged and/or underinsured) children.

In 2010, the DAC transitioned to the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC), an independent, broad-based partnership of individuals working to make sure progress continued on the DAC’s recommendations for improving access to oral health care for all Marylanders. Last year, MDAC hosted an Oral Health Heroes Celebration to recognize the work of these oral health pioneers.

The Maryland Dental Action Coalition and its members initiated the development of a 5-year state oral health plan and offered guidance as it was developed. The process involved many individuals in state and local government, academic institutions, professional dental organizations, private practice dentists, community-based programs, the insurance industry, advocacy groups, and others. The goals, objectives and activities in the plan will be the basis for work of the Maryland Dental Action Coalition in the years ahead specifically for:
• Access to oral health care
• Oral disease and injury prevention
• Oral health literacy and education.

With the launch of the plan comes a new phase of collaborative action to improve oral health for Marylanders. MDAC is taking inspiration from Helen Keller, who once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!”

A copy of the Maryland Oral Health Plan will be posted to the DentaQuest Foundation website in Reports: