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The New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (NZDOHTA) was one of five associations to meet in Singapore in October last year to discuss the global advancement of oral health therapy.

The leaders of the associations agreed that in absence of a global representative body, the advancement of dental and oral health therapy professions has been limited. The purpose of forming the International Oral Health Therapists Association is to unify the professional associations of countries that have an active body representing the dental therapy and/or oral health therapy professions.

Arish Naresh, Chairperson of the NZDOHTA, is the convenor of the new international body.

“With the growing burden of oral health diseases globally and significant unmet needs in the adult populations; Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ are best placed to address the equity gap and make oral health care more accessible and affordable,” says Naresh.

Leticia Masters, President of the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association agrees.

“Collaboration with likeminded associations is necessary to compel Governments to further invest in oral disease prevention; Oral Health needs a global voice.”

The international association will be launched at the Malaysian Dental Therapists Association’s annual conference in Kuala Lumpur in April this year. The five founding associations will start reaching out to more than 50 other countries with dental and oral health therapists to join the international professional body.

IOHA’s mission is shaped by six complementary and comprehensive areas of action. These are represented by the acronym SMILES and these translate to:

  1. Strong global advocacy: to be the worldwide, authoritative and independent voice of the oral health profession
  2. Member support: to support member associations and reinforce their capacity to provide prevention focussed oral healthcare to the public
  3. Information transfer: to advance and promote practice of evidence-based oral health service provision supported by robust data.
  4. Lessen the burden of oral health disease by increasing access and reducing barriers for the public to access and maintain optimal oral health.
  5. Excellence: to promote excellence in the areas of clinical practice, research, academia and any other relevant areas pertaining to the global advancement of oral health and oral health professionals.
  6. Sustainability: to work towards building an organisation that is sustainable, that supports the sustainability of its member organisations and support the overall aims of the sustainable development goals of the WHO.
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