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The World Federation of Publich Health Associations (WFPHA) presents a statement at the 71st World Health Assembly in May 2018 on the Responsible Use of Digital Technologies in Public Health.

71st World Health Assembly, Geneva, 21 – 26 May 2018

Agenda Item: 11.6 Global strategy and action plan on public health, innovation and intellectual property

The World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) is the only international, nongovernmental organization serving the broad field of public health on a global level.

The WFPHA salutes the global strategy and plan of action on innovation and intellectual property (A71/13). Additionally, the WFPHA acknowledges the efforts for mHealth, (EB142/20) use of appropriate digital technologies for public health. The goal to reach health for all will inevitably utilize digital technologies, as we seek to integrate emerging technologies into our health systems.

If public health practitioners and institutions embrace technology – as they must do in response to consumer market demands – we have to be aware of how they’re applied across different models of society. Public health must build and maintain the trust of the public by ensuring individual rights and privileges are preserved. In using data for research, public health must also address ethical considerations with the responsible use of “big data” in the interests of the public’s health.

In general, we already know about the accomplishments, limitations, and consequences (both intended and unintended) of using these technologies in public health and clinical medicine. As the digital technology industry continues to grow, all public health professionals must be aware of the effects and examine the pressures that can indirectly influence their basic values.
Engaged stakeholders in the realm of public health have the responsibility to take a proactive role and express the views of the society we seek to protect. Our vision is for a society where technology enhances access and equity towards health for all.

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WFPHA is pleased to announce that Prof. Walter Ricciardi has been elected as VP-president elect. Looking forward to work together!

Prof. Walter Ricciardi, from the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, has started his term as Vice President in May 2018 and will continue his contributions as president from May 2020.

Dr. Tedros, WHO DG, has assured to Prof. Ricciardi that WHO is ready to strengthen its partnership with WFPHA. Congratulations to Prof. Ricciardi!

WFPHA also congratulates his new Governing Council members, also elected during the last General Assembly: Dr. George Amofah (Ghana Public Health Association), Dr. Geir Sverre Braut (Norway Public Health Association), Dr. Sanghamitra Gosh (Indian Public Health Association), Dr. Isabelle Nicoulet (French Public Health Association), Dr. Hernando Nieto (Colombian Public Health Association).

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At Cuba Salud 2018, professors Carlo Signorelli and Anna Odone of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health have presented the next World Congress on Public Health to the convention as well as to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.
The World Congress is an important event held by the WFPHA, with the support of partners and other organizations, that takes place once every 2-3. The Congress serves as an international forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences on key public health issues, contributing towards protecting and promoting public health at a national and global level. The next World Congress on Public Health will be hosted by SItI and EUPHA and is taking place in Rome, Italy in October 2020. Stay tuned!

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The WFPHA supports the Global Child Dental Fund (GCDF) resolution calling for 20% of the revenues generated through a taxation on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) to be allocated to oral health promotion programs.

Currently, 28 countries have introduced a sugar tax on food and drinks. The revenues generated from this sugar tax have been invested in efforts to reduce and prevent obesity and type II diabetes, such as the development of physical education and healthy eating programs in schools with less or no focus going towards oral health promotion and prevention.

Nearly half of the world's population (48%) is affected by oral diseases and has suffered disabilities from oral diseases. 2.5 billion people have dental carries on permanent teeth, including in developed countries. Sugar is the primary factor responsible for the development of tooth decay. In the "Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)", the WHO has clearly highlighted the negative impact of SSBs on obesity, diabetes, AND tooth decay. Twhy, then are resources only being allocated to obesity and diabetes prevention, and not towards promoting oral health as well?

While oral health is an integral part of overall health, well-being and quality of life, it has traditionally been compartmentalized in healthcare and segregated from public health systems. Thus, oral diseases have become a neglected epidemic. The WFPHA calls for oral health to be integrated into overall health policies using cross-sector and holistic approaches for health promotion and led by good governance, in accordance with the Global Charter for the Public's Health. We need to educate the public about the detrimental effect of sugar on teeth and the importance of affordable fluoridated toothpaste.

Download the PDF Resolution here.