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Establishment of National Oral Health Task Force to Improve Oral Health in India

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  • The Task Force constitutes Government Stakeholders, Civil Society Organisations, Academia, Private Sector, and Technical Organisations
  • The Task Force is aligned with the Global Oral Health Action Plan of WHO South-East Asia Regional committee

New Delhi: Taking a significant step towards improving the oral health landscape in India, the Oral Health Collaborative, launched the ‘National Oral Health Task Force’ on 14th December 2023. Supported by Haleon (erstwhile GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare), the event was held in Hotel Ambassador, New Delhi, and was organized by Taru Leading Edge, a think tank.

National Oral Health Task Force set up to enhance oral health in India

India grapples with intricate oral health challenges stemming from socio-economic complexities, access disparities, and prevalent oral diseases. The economic burden of prevalent oral diseases is an estimated Rs. 50 billion. The primary focus of this task force is to address these challenges through driving awareness on oral health, enabling access, and empowering Indians take proactive charge of their oral health.

Focus Group Discussions were held at the National Oral Health Task Force Consultation meet, with the following agendas:

  1. Awareness:
    1. Strategic awareness campaigns
    2. Collaborative initiatives
  2. Access:
    1. Access enhancement
    2. Public-private collaboration and Financial inclusion
  3. Empowerment:
    1. Empowering Individuals and Communities
    2. Preventive care and Policy Advocacy.

Present at the prestigious event were Dr. R. K. Srivastava, Former DGHS, Former Chairman, MCI and Advisor, WISH Foundation as the Chief Guest, and Chairperson: Dr. L. Swasticharan, Addl. Deputy Director General (NCD), Dte.GHS, Government of India with Navneet Saluja, GM, Haleon ISC BU and Manu Prakash, CEO, Taru,.

Chief Guest at the event, Dr. R.K. Srivastava, Former DGHS, Former Chairman, MCI and Advisor, WISH Foundation, said, “The ripple effect of oral health on overall well-being is undeniable, and the commendable strides made by the Indian government in this domain have not only positively impacted individual lives but have also set the stage for a healthier society. The National Oral Health Programme stands as a testament to our commitment, but continuous efforts towards finding innovative solutions are essential for sustained improvement.

National Oral Health Task Force set up to enhance oral health in India

I am confident that with a right mix of oral health awareness models, integration with AI based tools, a bottoms-up approach, along with a collaborative mindset can magnify our efforts towards rewriting the oral health charter, ultimately improving the overall health trajectory of our nation.”

Delivering his keynote address at the event, Dr. L. Swasticharan, Addl. Deputy Director General (NCD) Dte.GHS, Government of India, and Chairperson of the Task Force, said, “Our commitment to sustained improvement is clear, with an emphasis on continuous education, infrastructure investment, and technological integration. The Oral Health Task Force, with its mandate to promote awareness, prevention, and access to care, is a crucial step toward addressing oral health challenges comprehensively. By bringing together diverse stakeholders, including government, public health experts, and IDA, we can harness collective expertise, foster innovation, and implement effective strategies to uplift the overall health and well-being of our nation. Thank you for your dedication and collaboration.”

Sharing his thoughts on the initiative, Navneet Saluja, GM, Haleon India Subcontinent, BU, said, “Oral health is often overlooked but it is intricately connected to our overall health. As an organisation driven by the purpose of improving everyday health with humanity, we are a proud supporter of this noteworthy initiative to promote awareness, prevention, and effectively manage the burden of oral diseases. The Task force is committed to prioritizing action against oral diseases and identify opportunities for reform to enhance oral health in India. Together with the National Oral Health Task Force, we envision a comprehensive strategy to elevate oral health awareness, prevent oral diseases, and enhance access to care by fostering continuous education, investing in infrastructure, and embracing technology.”

Speaking on this Task Force, Dr Prashant Narang, Director Medical Affairs, Haleon India Subcontinent, said, “The complex oral health landscape in India demands a multifaceted approach. As advocates for comprehensive oral healthcare, we take pride in our contribution and support to the National Oral Health Task Force. Having identified where the gaps in India’s oral health landscape lie, this task force aims to take action to improve the state of oral health for Indians. Our collective goal is to enhance oral health literacy and address preventable oral health challenges, fostering collaborative opportunities to empower the general population across urban and rural communities.

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