to the need for consistent messages to patients about the importance of oral health, HHS needs consistent messaging within its own organization that oral health is a priority.

Engaging Stakeholders

Finally, an important ingredient for the success of the NOHI is public-private partnerships and grassroots involvement. As stated in Chapter 1, an HHS initiative cannot on its own change the entire oral health care system. While the committee agrees that HHS should look for ways to be a leader for the rest of the country, they also need to be mindful of opportunities to partner with and learn from other stakeholders. For example, the committee recognizes the efforts occurring in the private sector that should not be supplanted or ignored. Throughout the recommendations for the NOHI, there are examples and opportunities for HHS to work with other stakeholders to combine efforts, share best practices, and pool resources. Collective efforts in the different sectors are also key to the successful implementation of systems and services at the community level. There is also an explicit effort both in the administrative structure of the NOHI and in the reporting process to engage consumers and their communities so that efforts remain patient and community focused, and that HHS remains openly accountable to the people they serve.

The committee recognizes that bringing disparate sectors together to effect significant change is a daunting task, but it is one well suited to the mission and responsibilities of HHS. Every effort needs to be made by HHS to collaborate with and learn from the private sector; other public sector entities at the local, state, and national levels; and patients themselves toward achieving the goal of improving the oral health care and, ultimately, the oral health of the entire U.S. population. There are many reasons that HHS can and should be a leader in improving oral health and oral health care. However, most important is the burden that oral diseases are placing on the health and well-being of the American people.

REFERENCES

ADA (American Dental Assocation). 2011. CDC decision to downgrade Division of Oral Health a bad move, ADA protests. http://www.ada.org/advocacy.aspx#top (accessed February 24, 2011).

Berwick, D. 2010. Introducing the CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation—and innovations.cms.gov. http://www.healthcare.gov/news/blog/InnovationCenter.html (accessed December 29, 2010).

Brand, M. 2010. Oral testimony of Dr. Marcia Brand, Deputy Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. Presentation at meeting of the Committee on an Oral Health Initiative, Washington, DC. March 31, 2010.



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