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The political economy of oral health in sub-Saharan Africa – uncovering the silent oral health crisis and exposing reasons for low public health priority

Oral diseases are among the most common and among the most neglected diseases of mankind. The disease burden is largely unknown to public health decisionmakers; the significant impact of bad oral health on wellbeing and societies is not reflected appropriately in current public (health) and global health discourses; and health systems in subSaharan African countries are particularly weak in integrating oral healthcare and disease prevention. The problems are rooted in a complex blend of historical, colonial, scientific, professional, and political issues: lack of evidenceinformed decisionmaking, ignorance of health inequalities, structural challenges of sector governance and sociocommercial determinants, but also misguided narratives and social beliefs related to oral health.
About 480 million people in Africa suffer from preventable oral diseases like tooth decay or gum disease; many have no affordable access to essential oral healthcare. Aligned with the STIAS Global Health theme of “health transitions” the project will expose the hidden oral health crisis using latest available data. Moreover, as a continuation of work initiated by the Lancet Commission on Global Oral Health, a critical political economy analysis will be applied to examine the crossdisciplinary issues that contribute to low priority of oral health.
Understanding the status and political power of oral diseases is a starting point to conceptualize an innovative, culturally appropriate narrative of oral health, promoting renewed awareness and action, particularly in subSaharan African countries where the silent oral health crisis is not yet on public health agendas.


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].