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About the Session

In this session, we bring together a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss global oral health, what this means in 2021 and how students can get involved. With recent progress in bringing attention to politicians and policy makers about the importance of oral health, it is a good time for students to consider these issues.


Key aims:

  • To inform students about the current pressing issues in global oral health

  • To stimulate debate as to how dental students can engage with global oral health in a socially responsible and sustainable way 

  • How global oral health relates to the local level in students’ own country

  • To discuss how to include public health and global health into dental education


Dr Benoit Varenne


Benoit Varenne is leading WHO’s work on the global oral health agenda as Dental Officer in the Noncommunicable Disease (NCDs) Department, World Health Organization (WHO). Before joining WHO HQ, Geneva, Benoit was the Regional Advisor for Oral Health in the WHO African region. In prior years, Benoit worked as a public health consultant for several years, as a consultant for WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean region and worked closely with numerous NGOs and other international health organizations. He has assisted ministries of health and health care policymakers in several parts of the world with a special focus on low-income settings. 


Recently Benoit led the development of the WHO Secretariat’s report on oral health in preparation of the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board and the WHO interim guidance “Considerations for the provision of essential oral health services in the context of COVID-19” as well as last year a WHO publication entitled “Ending childhood dental caries “. In 2016, he coordinated a collective WHO manual “Promoting Oral Health in Africa” as well as a new oral health policy for the African region “Regional oral health strategy 2016-2025: addressing oral diseases as part of NCDs”. 


Benoit graduated in medical dentistry at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France, and holds a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology from University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris VI). In addition to France, Benoit has studied community health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Dr Miriam Muriithi, Chief Dental Officer, Kenya

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, University of Nairobi School of Dental Sciences

MSc Public Health, Amref/Moi University; 

Dr. Miriam is the Chief Dental Officer and Head of Oral Health Services, Ministry of Health, Kenya in-charge of guiding policy towards achieving quality oral healthcare for the Kenyan people and overseeing the management of oral health in the country. 

As public health specialist, Miriam has contributed to guidance towards the practice of dentistry during and within COVID19 pandemic and also towards achieving universal health coverage in Kenya.

She is one of the pioneer Commissioners of the newly established Lancet Commission on Oral Health that seeks to highlight global oral health issues and explore ways of solving them.

Miriam has been working closely with WHO at Country, Regional and Headquarter offices on matters oral health and has in the process gained a wealth of experience in this area. She was the lead focal person in Kenya in the push to have an oral health agenda included in the WHO Executive Board meeting, Jan 2021 that led to the WHO Oral Health resolution.

Miriam is also a mentor of young Oral Health professionals and encourages them to take oral health to the next level where oral health is recognised as a significant contributor of overall health and wellbeing.

She is a proud mother three children twins (son and daughter) 26 years and a 16 year old daughter.

Dr Julian Fisher - Charité University, Berlin

Julian Fisher is a policy advisor and analyst with focused expertise in global oral health, health workforce education, social and environmental determinants of health, and health in all policy approaches.


He based at Department of Oral Diagnostics, Digital Health and Health Services Research, Charité University Berlin, and is currently coordinating the Global Oral Health Education Module.


His work experience covers a diverse range of professional domains including international public health policy and advocacy (consultancies for UN agencies including WHO, UNESCO & UNEP), health profession (federation) management, health workforce undergraduate and postgraduate education, both classroom and web based.


His work has been based in geographical locations, including Europe, Africa (Tanzania, South Africa), Saudi Arabia, Falkland Islands and Antarctica within various sectors and organizations.


Julian Fisher earned his BDS (Dentistry) from Birmingham University in 1985, a MSc (HIV/AIDS) from Stellenbosch University, South Africa in 2002, and a MIH (International Health) from Charité University, Berlin in 2006.

Dr Ave Põld - WHO Academy, IADS


Dr Ave Põld is an early career professional currently working as a Product Owner for the World Health Organization Academy. She has been actively involved for years in various global health student organizations, mainly the International Association of Dental Students and the GHWN Youth Hub. She is a dentist by training, currently studying for a Master of Science in International Health at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin in Berlin. Her areas of interest include oral health, adult learning, health technology and health workforce.

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