Friday, October 28, 2011

Building a Movement for Optimal Oral Health

By Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation

According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, “Millions of Americans are not receiving needed dental care services because of "persistent and systemic" barriers that limit their access to oral health care. Nearly 5 million children went without regular dental checkups in 2008 because of financial limitations. 33.3 million Americans live in an area with a shortage of dental professionals.” Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations

Stories like this illustrate the need that drives the DentaQuest Foundation’s investments in oral health improvement at the national, state and local levels. Previously, I wrote about the DentaQuest Foundation’s support for the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance which is engaging national partners in oral health improvement goals.

People feel the pain of their inability to get needed services at the local level. So today, I am writing about the Oral Health 2014 Initiative. This new signature program of the DentaQuest Foundation is building a movement for oral health at the state and community level by supporting the work of state-based organizations that are developing effective community solutions.

When we announced the Oral Health 2014 initiative, we immediately saw a clear need and interest in community solutions for oral health across the United States. Over 200 program leaders from nearly every state joined in our Request for Proposals launch webinar in June. Seventy (70) organizations responded with their ideas. Thirty-six (36) were invited to submit a full proposal.

Today, Oral Health 2014 is taking root and moving forward in 20 states. I am enthusiastic about every one of these organizations. Each is working to build support for oral health solutions in their communities, engaging traditional and not-so-traditional partners. Oral Health 2014 is a multi-year initiative. The DentaQuest Foundation is committed to each organization’s success, providing financial and technical resources to help them move their projects forward.

This is an important moment for oral health. These 20 state organizations join the growing national movement of collaborative leaders who are aligned in their desire to address oral health disparities-- many hands working toward a common goal.

I extend the gratitude of the DentaQuest Foundation to the National Advisory Committee of leaders in community health, philanthropy, civic engagement, and members of the founding board of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance. They provided guidance in the development of the program and the selection of grantees.
  • Dr. Caswell Evans of the University of Illinois, DentaQuest Foundation Board of Directors and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Paul Gilmer of Triana Energy and a member of the National Community Committee of the CDC Prevention Research Centers
  • Dr. Leslie E. Grant of the National Dental Association and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Marion Kane, formerly of Barr Foundation and currently on the Board of the Directors for the DentaQuest Foundation
  • Dr. Dushanka Kleinman of the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Barbara Leonard of the Maine Health Access Foundation
  • Sandra Owens Lawson of CRP Corp.
  • Dr. Lindsey Robinson of the California Dental Association Foundation and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors, and
  • Dr. Donna Shelley of New York University School of Nursing and Dentistry.

Congratulations to our new Oral Health 2014 partners! I encourage you to join them in building collaborative solutions.

The DentaQuest Foundation will continue to look for ways to support local leaders in their important work to make oral health a public health priority. We encourage every group who was interested in Oral Health 2014 to stay active as oral health advocates by contributing their talents and enthusiasm to the work of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance which is tackling the same priority areas at the national level.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Within Dr. King’s Dream…..

Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr., 1966.

When the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. this October 16th, America will celebrate the inclusive and powerful legacy that constituted Dr. King’s overall dream for justice. This occasion has prompted me to reflect on opportunities to add a voice to this national moment of hope that keeps Dr. King’s dream alive.

Within all the memorable words of Dr. King, those spoken on the subject of health care and inequality resound in my mind most strongly. Throughout a career dedicated to prevention and public health, I have come upon too many situations where life’s odds are stacked against those in greatest need and people who are dealing with chronic illness in our communities. When I think that we have not solved “the most shocking and inhumane forms of inequality” in the 45 years since Dr. King made this claim, I know that our work is nowhere near completed.

We are moving forward with tremendous opportunities in the era of health care reform and when the value of collaboration is being recognized as a powerful method for better decision making in many sectors. I have witnessed many examples of how changes in the conditions in which people live are making a tremendous difference in reducing inequalities. These include investments to increase access to healthy fresh foods, investments in safe places to exercise and play, and investments in community supports to navigate options for health care.

The occasion to memorialize Dr. King’s legacy is an excellent one to promote effective leadership across all sectors-- business, government and philanthropy -- to create pathways for health equity. A new program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages such collaboration. The National Partnership for Action (NPA) to End Health Disparities provides opportunities to engage in Health Equity Councils in all ten regions across the United States. Each council is engaging community-based leader across health, business, philanthropy and community to move the dial on health equity through better collaboration among stakeholders and more effective use of public and private resources to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

No one sector can create the conditions for better health alone. It takes a cohesive and inclusive national strategy that leverages layers of public and private sector investments and creates critical partnerships. I am honored to represent oral health and philanthropy on the Region I Health Equity Council and invite others to learn more about the Councils and to get involved.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial this month reminds our nation of its commitment to ensuring equality for all. For me it is an opportunity to highlight the important efforts of the many people and organizations working for equal access to quality health care.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Today is Child Health Day!

By Dr. Doyle Williams

Did you know that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease?

That cavities are almost 100 percent preventable when children have access to prevention, education and treatment services.

That 1/3rd of children ages 6 to 8 have untreated caries (cavity) in a permanent tooth.

That every year, 16 million children go without dental care, placing them at great risk of getting cavities or worse.

Today, on Child Health Day I would like to remind you how important your child’s dental health is to his/her wellbeing.

Please take a moment to sit down with your child today to talk about the importance of good oral health in their lives and what they can do to help keep a healthy smile.