What is Policy?

Policy is a consensus on the ideas forming the basis for co-ordinating for plans for actions which, in turn, ensure that services are provided equitably and healthy environments are maintained.

Health policy is the systematic approach to the evaluation and management of the quality and quantity of health care, including prevention and health services. The quality of health care is usually measured as the structure, process, or outcome and quantity is related to ultilization costs of services

What is Health Promotion?

Health Promotion can be considered as the combination of educational, organizational, economic and environmental supports for behaviour conducive to health

Health Promotion is the process of enabling individuals and communities to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health. Health promotion represents a mediating strategy between people and their environment, combining personal choice and social responsibility for health to create a healthier future (WHO 1984)
It is directed to the underlying determinants as well as the immediate causes – the causes of the causes. (The determinants of health are not always under an individual’s control and may be categorized as biological, environmental, lifestyle, and health care services – see Ashley and Allen, in Burt and Eklund)

What is Oral Health Promotion?

Oral health promotion can be defined as public health actions to protect or improve oral health and promote oral well-being through behavioural, educational and enabling socio-economic, legal, fiscal, environmental, and social measures.

Public Health Importance of Oral Diseases

  • High prevalence
  • Impact on individuals and society is great
  • Pain, discomfort, functional limitation and handicap are common, they affect quality of life
  • Financial cost to individual and the community is considerable. Dental diseases are more expensive to treat than heart diseases and cancers
  • Preventable; simple and cheap public health methods should be available to prevent and control
  • Causes are known – diet, dirt and cigarettes
  • Easy to evaluate treatment
  • Easy to detect
  • Treatment relatively ineffective.

At the level of public policy, the influence of the WHO in the 1980s was substantial. The publication of the Declaration of Alma Ata (WHO 1978) and the subsequent development of the WHO strategy of ‘Health for all by the year 2000’ effectively set the agenda for the new public health.

  1. Equitable distribution. Governments must endeavour to distribute equitably those variables which influence health
  2. Community participation. Individuals and communities should participate in all decisions which affect their health
  3. Focus on prevention. The focus of health planners and funding must shift from medical/dental care to prevention and health promotion
  4. Appropriate technology. Emphasis should be on the most appropriate technology and personnel to deal with problems
  5. A multi-sectoral approach. Solutions to ill-health cannot be solved only by the health sector. Social, economic, agriculture, and education sectors must co-ordinate policies that affect health


  1. Promoting health through public policy: By focusing attention on the impact on health of public policies from all sectors, and not just the health sector
  2. Creating a supportive environment: By assessing the impact on health of the environment and clarifying opportunities to make changes conducive to health
  3. Developing personal skills: By moving beyond the transmission of information, to promote understanding, and to support the development of personal, social and political skills which enable individuals to take action to promote health
  4. Strengthening community action: By supporting concrete and effective community action in defining priorities, making decisions, planning strategies, and implementing them to achieve better health
  5. Reorienting health services: By refocusing attention away from the responsibility to provide curative and clinical services towards the goal of health gain


To promote social responsibility for health To increase investments for health development To consolidate and expand ‘partnerships for health’ To increase community capacity and ’empower’ the individual in matters of health To secure an infrastructure for health promotion


Five key points

1. Determinants of Health

  • examined in detail
  • factors outside of the Health sector such as poverty, environment, housing, education etc. that influence health need to be addressed in partnership.

2. SLÁN Data

  • data now available by age, sex, social class etc.
  • we can now focus campaigns on key target audiences
  • need to repeat SLÁN regularly

3. Health Proofing

  • all policy will now be “health proofed” to examine health impact

4. Need for greater multi-sectoral action

  • Establishment of Health Promotion Forum
  • widely representative of all main stakeholders

5. Strategic Five Year Plan

  • Topics (Smoking, Alcohol, etc.)
  • Settings (Schools, Workplace, Community, etc.)
  • Population Groups (Young people, men etc.)
  • Aims and Objectives set under each heading.


Oral health is achieved when the teeth and the oral environment are not only healthy but also comfortable and functional and there is an absence of sources of infection which may affect general health. This state of oral health should persist for life, which given a healthy lifestyle, is achievable for the majority of the population.

The two main oral diseases are dental caries or dental decay and periodontal or gum disease. However, other significant conditions affecting the oral tissues are oral cancer and dentofacial trauma.

There are a number of risk factors, which are associated with both general health and oral health. Tobacco, diet and alcohol are risk factors that are common to oral diseases as well as cardiovascular disease and cancers including oral cancer. Accidents, injuries and stress also affect oral health as well as general health.

The oral health of Irish people has improved over the last 40 years. The main reasons for this

improvement are water fluoridation and the widespread availability of fluoride toothpaste. Medical card-holders have the greatest need for dental treatment and are more likely to have no natural teeth.

The results of the HBSC survey shows that the level of risk for dental decay is still high.

Ireland amongst 28 countries internationally, has a very high reported consumption of sweets, confectionery and soft drinks while at the same time having less than adequate oral hygiene practices.

Strategic aim:

to improve the level of oral health in the general population with a particular emphasis on people with special needs.


To promote the use of fluoride toothpaste amongst lower socio-economic groups and people living in non-fluoridated areas.

To educate parents and carers of the need to supervise oral hygiene practices of children under seven years and to ensure the appropriate use of only a small pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste.

To prioritise oral health promotion initiatives for special needs groups, for example, people with disabilities, socially deprived groups, the Traveller Community and refugees.

To work in partnership to develop and implement health promotion programmes that promote oral health.

To support the implementations of the recommendations in the report Oral Health in Ireland, Building Healthier Hearts, Towards a Tobacco Free Society, the Cancer Services in Ireland: A National Strategy, the National Alcohol Policy and the Government Strategy for Road Safety 1998-2002 that promote and protect oral health.

You can go directly to the Department of Health and Children’s website http://www.doh.ie and download The National Health Promotion Strategy in PDF file format, or do it from here.


Corporate Development Plan

We will create a Consumer focussed organisation, through: Enhanced consultation Better information Acquiring the appropriate resources Delivering services which are responsive to our consumers’ / patients’ needs We will develop and shape our services, in an integrated manner, so that: Community based services are the central focus of patient and consumer care Hospital services fulfil an appropriate and effective complementary role Our services and processes are based on best practice We will provide staff with the skills and supports to assist them in delivering a high quality of service to the consumer We will develop the health promoting role of the Southern Health Board through programmes that are targeted, effective and evidence based We will identify, target and reduce inequalities in health status

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