African countries propose a regional oral health strategy: The Dakar Report from 1998
It is clear that the African region faces a number of serious oral diseases, either because of their high prevalence or because of the severe tissue damage or death that can occur. Previous approaches to oral health in Africa have failed to recognise the epidemiological priorities of the region or to identify reliable and appropriate strategies to assess them. Efforts have consisted of an unplanned, ad hoc and spasmodic evolution of curative oral health services. This document focuses on the most severe oral problems that people have to live with like noma, oral cancer and the oral consequences of HIV/AIDS infection. It proposes a strategy for assisting member states and partners to identify priorities and interventions at various levels of the health system, particularly at the district level. The strategy aims at strengthening the capacity of countries to improve community oral health by effectively using proven interventions to address specific oral health needs. The strategy identifies five main 'programmatic areas', including (i) the development of national oral health strategies and implementation plans, (ii) integration of oral health in other programmes, (iii) delivery of effective and safe oral health services, (iv) regional approach to education and training for oral health, and (v) development of effective oral health management information systems. Many of the programmatic areas share similar characteristics described as a 'strategic orientation'. These strategic orientations give effect to the concepts of advocacy, equity, quality, partnership, operational research, communication and capacity building. The WHO Regional Committee for Africa (RC) is invited to review the proposed oral health strategy for the African region for the period 1999-2008 and provide an orientation for the improvement of oral health in member states in the region.