SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—Hosted in Puerto Rico with the objective of improving oral health across the Caribbean, the first Caribbean Oral Health Summit was held on November 13 and 14, 2013 at the Caribe Hilton Hotel. The Summit included a two-day comprehensive scientific program focused on leveraging resources to promote oral health in the Caribbean Region through prevention, health promotion and health care. Delegations from Barbados, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico actively participated in the Summit offering a report on the oral health status in their respective countries.
The University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine and Colgate-Palmolive developed this Summit as part of a strategic alliance known as Caribbean Oral Health Initiative. “The purpose is to identify the priorities, best practices, challenges, and opportunities for education and research collaboration in the Caribbean Region to improve the oral health delivery system,” said Dr. Augusto R. Elías Boneta, president of the steering committee and assistant dean of research at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine.
The first Caribbean Oral Health Summit gathered professional associations, international speakers, members of the academia, government dignitaries, and oral health professionals from the different Ministries of Health. Agnes Rivera, professional relations manager for Colgate-Palmolive, stated “the company is highly committed to improving the oral health of the Caribbean population and to facilitating the access of disadvantaged families to education and dental care services.” Rivera also emphasized on the importance of collaborative efforts between the private sector, the government and the academia to help improve the quality of life of people.
Dr. Rahul S. Naidu, senior lecturer, community dentistry and coordinator of the Children’s Dental Health Unit at The University of the West Indies, was one of the Summit keynote speakers. Likewise, Dr. Mark S. Wolff, professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care and Associate Dean for Pre-doctoral Clinical Education at the New York University College of Dentistry, revealed the results of a study made in Granada during the past three years aimed at reducing the incidence of caries in schoolchildren at this Caribbean island.
According to research conducted, increased costs and less investment in dental public health programs are prominent signs of the on-growing health crisis in the Caribbean countries. Therefore, the findings, collaborative agreements and research projects generated will be vital in establishing programs to meet the challenges of oral health in the Caribbean Region, declared Dr. Elías Boneta.