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Table of Contents
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 134-135  

For the sake of our health

President-elect of the FDI World Dental Federation President of the Portuguese Dental Association, Portugal

Date of Web Publication26-Nov-2010

Correspondence Address:
Orlando Monteiro Da Silva
President-elect of the FDI World Dental Federation President of the Portuguese Dental Association
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-237X.72773

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How to cite this article:
Da Silva OM. For the sake of our health. Contemp Clin Dent 2010;1:134-5

How to cite this URL:
Da Silva OM. For the sake of our health. Contemp Clin Dent [serial online] 2010 [cited 2020 May 25];1:134-5. Available from:

Today, health is people's main concern. I believe health systems must face four challenges: pragmatism, transversability, accountability, and sustainability.

   The Challenge of Pragmatism Top

In politics, ideology, by force of circumstance, gradually gives way to pragmatism.

The meaning of the word pragmatism--'the doctrine according to which practical matters are the criteria of knowledge, as opposed to intellectualism'--speaks for itself. In fact, politics is more and more concerned with issues affecting people's everyday lives, such as health, education, and social security, among others.

As an example of this, Mr. Obama's health reforms played a central role in the latest presidential elections in the United States.

Pragmatism prevents health policies from being irreversibly affected by ideological and ephemeral aspects, by the 'isms' that have brought about so much tragedy in the entire world, and drives health away from the most adequate solutions.

It is when the debate becomes a partisan dispute, depending on budgetary and electoral cycles, that solutions are compromised or postponed.

   The Challenge of Transversability Top

According to World Health Organization, 'health promotion activities are carried out on a daily basis and comprise initiatives involving social, personal and physical resources, in addition to disease-oriented interventions.'

The global improvement of health conditions must rest on basic factors, such as reasonable income levels, good living conditions, and adequate nutrition, apart from the access to information, the acquisition of social skills, the presence of a market offering healthy products, services, and equipments, and economic, social, and environmental conditions for the advancement of health.

Today, we can observe that the most common noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, share several risk factors like tobacco use, alcohol abuse, sedentary habits, and inadequate diets. These risk factors are determined by economic, social, gender, political, behavioral, and environmental factors and call for multisectarian answers that national health services must be able to coordinate. Many oral diseases share these same risk and determining factors. They are also a huge public health problem due to their prevalence and incidence in every region of the world and, as in all diseases, they affect less-privileged and socially marginalized populations.

These chronic diseases, together with technology, lack of information, and an aging population, lead to a growing tension within the health systems of the world's most developed countries. And these tensions, leading to a restriction of the services provided by public health systems, do not depend on their efficacy or efficiency.

It is therefore necessary to look at health in a transverse way and from different viewpoints which take into account other sectors like education, social action, civil education, and economy as a whole.

   The Challenge of Accountability Top

I am convinced that the challenges societies are facing all over the world, such as health, education, and social security, are not only a matter of finance but also a matter of civil and educational awareness. It is necessary to develop a pedagogical activity among the population, in order to make people aware of their rights and duties.

I think that at least part of the debate and the solution has to focus on the issue of accountability, not only to define everyone's rights, but also to develop a reciprocity mechanism regarding the duties of those involved in defining a policy for our health systems, as well as the duties of the entire society, of users, of decision makers, and of all health professionals.

   The Challenge of Sustainability Top

Providing everyone with the right to health protection demands a change of several paradigms, such as making people deeply aware that health care is not free. Today, this is a perverse notion in terms of sociological behavior. However, health services are indirectly funded by all, or at least most of us, through our taxes.

Health systems need to be more flexible in order to adapt better and faster to the ever-changing socioeconomic realities.

In conclusion, we must remove the ideological issues from our debate about health systems. We must make it nonpartisan, take it to the level of citizenship and have a pragmatic, transverse, individually responsible, and financially sustainable approach.

In the world, health also needs comprehensive social and political contracts.

For the sake of our health!


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