Activities proposed to advance any or all of the actions described above must incorporate schemes for planning and evaluation, coordination, and accountability. Because planning and evaluation are key elements in the design and implementation of any program, the need to create oral health action plans is emphasized.
Whether individuals are moved to act as volunteers in a community program, as members of a health voluntary or patient advocacy organization, employees in a private or public health agency, or health professionals at any level of research, education, or practice, the essential first step is to conduct a needs assessment and develop an oral health plan. Because the concept of integrating oral health with general health is intrinsic to the goals of this Call To Action, oral health plans should be developed with the intent of incorporating them into existing general health plans. Healthy People 2010 objectives can be used to help guide needs assessment and to establish program goals and health indicators for outcome measures. At the state level many, but not all, states have already developed oral health plans; however, not all of these plans have been integrated into the state’s general health plan and policies. While a detailed plan is necessary to guide collaboration on the many specific actions necessary for enhancing oral health, integration of key components into the state’s general health plan will assure that oral health is included where appropriate in other state health initiatives.
At any level, formal plans with goals, implementation steps, strong evaluation components, and monitoring plans will facilitate setting realistic timelines, guidelines, and budgets. The oral health plan will serve as a blueprint, one that can be a tool for enlisting collaborators and partners and attracting funding sources to ensure sustainability. Building this plan into existing health programs will maximize the integration of oral health into general health programs—not only by incorporating the expertise of multidisciplinary professional teams, but also allowing the plan to benefit from economies of scale by adding on to existing facilities, utilizing existing data and management systems, and serving the public at locations already known to patients.
To facilitate establishing, monitoring and revising written plans and ensure their progress:
- Use the Healthy People 2010 objectives to help establish program goals and guide the needs assessment and development of health indicators for outcome measures.
- Develop and nurture a consortium of stakeholders.
- Align plan priorities with the views and expertise of primary stakeholders.
- Build upon existing plans within your organization, state, or local community or apply aspects of plans established at other locations to suit program needs.
- Ensure that cultural sensitivity is utilized in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of plans.
- Emphasize the value of incorporating oral health into general health plans by educating the public, health professionals, and policymakers about oral health and its relation to general health and well-being.
- Integrate existing oral health plans into general health plans.
- Establish and maintain a strong surveillance and evaluation effort.
- Regularly report on progress to all stakeholders and policymakers.
- Commit resources to ensure that oral health programs and systems include staff with sufficient time, expertise, and information systems, and address oral health needs.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (US), Rockville (MD)
Office of the Surgeon General (US). National Call To Action To Promote Oral Health. Rockville (MD): National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (US); 2003. The Need for Action Plans with Monitoring and Evaluation Components.