DOWNLOAD THE CANADA ORAL HEALTH POLICY LAB REPORT HERE
The Oral Health Policy Lab Network
The ACFF’s Oral Health Policy Lab Network (OHPLN), as part of the Global Collaboratory for Caries Management, aims to move stakeholders forward in achieving a Cavity-Free Future worldwide. It also seeks to demonstrate the attainability and “value” of a Cavity-Free state through both global and national level Oral Health Policy Lab events, reports and sharing across an international Network. The Network is in discussions with ACFF Chapters and Health Department teams around the world to help shape the formation of new policy, forming links with other NGO’s working for similar goals. Through a series of ‘Policy Lab’ events, the Network aims to catalyse change within health systems, ensure that prevention is moved up the agenda and promote the WHO Oral Health Resolution and Action Plan.
The Canada Oral Health Policy Lab
In November 2022, Canada became the first of the Oral Health Policy Lab Network’s Exemplar Countries. The ACFF Canada-US Chapter, in conjunction with the Global Team, ran a lab in Ottawa aiming to answer the question:
Given recent developments in oral health care policy and practice in Canada and internationally, what else is needed in terms of investments or other conditions to maximize caries prevention and care amongst infants and children?
Recognising the breadth of the issue, this lab brought together academics, government, nurses, dental assistants, health and social services, economists and more. The results of this lab can be found in the report which can be download using the link below. The recommendations will form the first set of options on the OHPLN’s “menu” of policy options that governments and policy makers can adapt for their own needs.
What is a Policy Lab?
A Policy Lab is a 24-hour event that brings together professionals from the wide range of stakeholders involved in oral health, who often rarely meet, to discuss and create policy recommendations in answer to a specific pre-agreed question. A Policy Lab utilises these differing perspectives to explore in detail the issues around a certain question, to discuss and create policy recommendations for use by governments, international bodies and other oral health organisations. The lab is facilitated in a way that encourages rapid, creative thinking to develop novel responses, which are also practical and grounded in the existing evidence base. It combines initial fast-paced group work with a more in-depth look at the issues surrounding the question presented.
History of the Oral Health Policy Lab Network
The OHPLN started as the ACFF Dental Policy Lab Network. In 2017, in conjunction with the Global Collaboratory for Caries Care and King’s College London, the ACFF ran the first of what would be a series of three policy labs aimed at creating policy recommendations that could be tailored by different national governments and international bodies to help improve oral health for all. These policy labs covered:
- How to accelerate policy shift towards caries prevention and control in 2017
- How to implement acceptable prevention-based dental payment systems in 2018
- How to improve oral health through partnerships in 2019.
Following on from these three Policy Labs, the ACFF formed the Making Cavities History Taskforce, a group that brought together a range of oral health perspectives from around the world to create A Global Consensus for achieving a Cavity-Free Future. This Global Consensus which was published in March 2021 and has gained endorsements from national and international organisations, associations and educational bodies. Further information on the Taskforce and the Global Consensus can be found here.
Many of the people involved in the Making Cavities History Taskforce wanted to continue working together in the Dental Policy Lab Network. Through a series of discussions following the publication of the Global Consensus, the Network agreed on 4 key Dental Policy Lab Actions that would help accelerate progress towards a Cavity-Free Future. These Actions and the plans for the Network were presented by Prof. George Tsakos at the 2021 ACFF Global Summit.
In 2022, the Dental Policy Lab Network changed its title to the Oral Health Policy Lab Network to better represent the full spectrum of stakeholders involved in achieving a Cavity-Free Future. Using the recommendations which came out of the 3 previous policy labs and the Global Consensus, the OHPLN has now begun creating a “menu” of policy recommendations which support the WHO Oral Health Resolution using Policy Labs in Exemplar Countries, the first of which was the Canadian Policy Lab focused on infants and children.
For further details on some of the Policy Lab Network Projects, please click on the relevant section below.
Dental Policy Lab 2019: Towards Oral and Dental Health through Partnership
King’s College London Researchers studying tooth decay (dental caries) and their international partners have been working as, and with, the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (a King’s-led dental charity with global reach, chaired by Professor Nigel Pitts), and, in collaboration with the Policy Institute at King’s, using their ‘Policy Lab methodology’ have developed a series of three, very successful, ‘Dental Policy Labs.’
The ‘Dental Policy Lab’ has been a successful, dynamic initiative first launched in 2017 and each time, has brought together a diverse group of international experts, challenging them with solving a pressing global issue within both clinical practice and public health over a 24-hour period. Previous Dental Policy Labs have explored and addressed significant questions and have had immediate impacts on international health policy. For example, the 2017/18 Labs saw the French National Health Service (Assurance Maladie), the ICDAS / ICCMS™ Group and the FDI Chief Dental Officers/Dental Public Health Section taking action based on the Lab’s findings.
The latest report has now been published. Its title is ‘Towards Oral and Dental Health through Partnership: How can the oral health and dental industries benefit from enabling positive behaviour in caries prevention and control amongst patients and the public?’ which captures the overarching policy question addressed by the Lab. The report details the discussions and findings of the third and final Dental Policy Lab, lists the broad range of internationally influential academics and industry experts, and provides a strategy for implementing the findings of not only this Lab, but the outputs of all three through the new ‘King’s College London/ACFF Dental Policy Lab Network.’
Professor Nigel Pitts, Chair of ACFF Global commented that “The third Dental Policy Lab was unique, and exciting, and brought together a range of people who do not normally have the opportunity to collaborate.” Professor John Girkin (Durham University and NirVisio Ltd.), a participant of the Dental Policy Lab echoed this, confirming that “Getting together the large range of people that are in this Lab, from the people at the top of public health through to the people that are at the top of the companies through to the people like me that invent things, and bringing them all in the same room at the same time and hearing different people’s perspectives, this is a huge benefit.”
Each Lab has seen enthusiastic ‘buy-in’ from all delegates, and this keenness was once again shown by attendees at the latest Lab, particularly in forming the new King’s College London/ACFF Dental Policy Lab Network in order to drive forward the plan of advancing the four key areas (identified in the report’s summary) in collaboration with the King’s Global Collaboratory for Caries Management, with the end goal of achieving a cavity-free future worldwide.
The Dental Policy Lab 3 full report can be viewed here: https://doi.org/10.18742/pub01-024 (click through for access to the full report)
Universal Health Coverage: Taking the Oral Health argument to the UN
In 2019, the ACFF was invited to join a group of NGO’s and Policy change advocates who are looking to put Oral Health onto the agenda for the UN General Assembly HLM on Universal Health Coverage which will take place the day before the General debate in September 2019. This group has aligned and published a statement expressing the concerns over the need for Oral Health to be included in the definition of Universal Health Coverage which will be presented to relevant stakeholders for discussion around the UN General Assembly HLM.
Dental Policy Lab 2018: Towards Paying for Health in Dentistry
‘How can we create and implement acceptable prevention-based dental payment systems to achieve and maintain health outcomes?’
This question was the focus of the second ACFF Policy Lab, held in conjunction with the King’s College London Dental Institute and the Policy Institute at King’s. The meeting took place in London on the 23-24th July 2018 and brought together 35 participants from around the globe.
The meeting followed on from the success of the 2017 Policy Lab, ‘Towards a Cavity-Free Future: How do we accelerate a policy shift towards increased resource allocation for caries prevention and control?’. The 2017 report can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Q47mSt
Participants came together for this two day meeting to focus on addressing the complexities of designing dental payment systems which better encourage and reward preventive treatment. Government officials and policy influencers, along with practitioner groups, health economists, academics, public health groups and NGOs were among the handpicked attendees brought together to initiate this discussion, called for as one of the ‘next steps’ following the publication of the 2017 Policy Lab report.
Dental Policy Lab 2017: Towards a Cavity-Free Future
On July 28-29th 2017, the ACFF facilitated the first in a series of 2 day Policy Lab meetings. With participants from around the world, and with the involvement of multiple Chief Dental Officers, Public Health groups, the BDA and representatives from across all faces of dentistry, the focus of the session was to answer the question ‘How do we accelerate a policy shift towards increased resource allocation for caries prevention and control?’
The success in bringing together such a varied group for the session allowed for a holistic discussion of the issue at hand, and following 24 hours of in depth, varied discourse, the attendees agreed that this is an important and truly a multi-faceted challenge.
When looking at shifting to a preventive focus, there is a need to look at caries prevention and control for both a) excluded and vulnerable groups with limited access to dental care and b) groups who already have access to care but where treatment is still too surgically focussed. In order to do this, there are at multiple stakeholders we need to consider, all of whom have contrasting views on the legitimacy, attractiveness and economic viability of pushing for preventive caries care.
Moving forward, these groups all need to be brought to the table throughout the process, especially when we are investing in long term activity to shift public, professional and industry behaviour with regards to prevention. It was resolved by the group that useful, mid-term next steps would be to find a way to demonstrate the monetary value of a cavity- free future, and to look into ways to promote models for prevention focused payment systems for dentists, better equipping the dental and related health workforces to deliver effective caries prevention and management.
Attendees left the Lab enthused, with a view to developing a range of ideas both individually and collectively on how best to advance progress in this field with their stakeholder organisations.
2019 Policy Lab Report
2018 Policy Lab Report
2017 Policy Lab Report