(based on new research and demonstration projects), develop consistent messages about oral health, and to monitor oral health outcomes related to the efforts of HHS. Overall, the committee envisions that this meeting be an opportunity to report on both short-term and intermediate goals (as set by the individual agencies, as discussed in Recommendation 1) and progress on Healthy People 2020 goals and objectives (the overall mission of the NOHI). In addition, HHS needs to develop a mechanism to get public feedback on the programs they are responsible for, ensuring that consumers have a meaningful voice. The committee could not recommend the exact interval of this meeting, recognizing both the time needed for the start-up of new projects as well as the time needed to collect and evaluate new data. The committee also does not intend for this recommendation to preclude additional meetings that HHS might hold internally without a public presence.
In her presentation to this committee, Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator of HRSA, responded to questions from this committee regarding the types of recommendations that might be most valuable for HHS. She recognized that a balance of specificity and generality would be needed but that the recommendations should be “actionable”—that is, recommendations that could be acted upon immediately but might have several methods of implementation and thereby give flexibility. This committee asserts that the framework and details of the previously outlined recommendations does just this. The committee recognizes that many of the recommendations made are not necessarily “new.” However, as the title of this report suggests, the challenges and strategies illuminated by Oral Health in America represent and remain the areas that have the strongest evidence for effecting the needed changes.
As this committee looks to the future of HHS’ involvement in oral health, questions arise regarding both the long-term viability of maintaining oral health as a priority issue and the likelihood of the recommendations of this report coming to fruition. In this vein, the committee has identified three key areas that are needed for future success: strong leadership, sustained interest, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
The Importance of Leadership
The foundation of the OHI 2010 provides many indications that leadership for oral health is currently strong. The OHI 2010 is broader than many previous efforts in that it involves many more HHS agencies and programs at multiple levels, which may result in more buy-in departmentally.