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Universal Health Coverage through Integrated Care

Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s (HSDM) Initiative to Integrate Oral Health and Medicine recently convened global experts on innovations that advance health systems toward greater equity and universal access to care.

Oral health is an essential component of overall health and wellness. Yet, oral diseases remain the most prevalent of all diseases according to the Global Burden of Disease report, disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations across low, middle, and high income countries. 

These advancements come at a time when stakeholders are demanding systems transformations that focus on person-centered, equitable, integrated, accessible health care. Primary care is being redefined to include behavioral health, oral health, and other essential elements of health and wellbeing, including social determinants.  

This special collection highlights innovations in workforce, care delivery, and systems change. It illustrates successful programs and policies that focus on holistic equitable care, that effect sustainable change through stakeholder engagement. 

Recent developments thrust oral health and dentistry into the global policy spotlight. In 2021, The Lancet Commission on Oral Health convened, and the World Health Organization approved a landmark Resolution on Oral Health. Both affirmed a commitment to embed oral disease prevention and oral health care into the Non-Communicable Disease, Medical, and Universal Health agendas.