Remembering Professor Poul Erik Petersen, former WHO Chief of Oral Health Programme and member of FDI Public Health Committee
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Poul Erik Petersen, who devoted his life to improving global oral health through his revolutionary work in public health. Professor Petersen passed away peacefully on 19 March surrounded by his family.
Professor Petersen has made countless contributions to the dental community, but he will always be remembered for advancing the cause of oral health within the global public health agenda as the Chief of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Oral Health Programme. Within this role, he made many accomplishments, including the launch of the first World Oral Health Report in 2003. Professor Petersen also served the WHO Regional Office for Europe for several years and assisted ministries of health and public health administrators globally.
Apart from his extensive work in global public health, Professor Petersen held a position as a Professor of Global Oral Health and Community Dentistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. He was later on elected Dean of the School of Dentistry and Vice-Director of the School of Public Health at the same institution. With over 350 scientific publications to his name, Professor Petersen made significant contributions to the advancement of public health research in universities across the globe. He also played an instrumental role in the planning and execution of community health projects in numerous developed and developing nations.
Professor Petersen will especially be fondly remembered by FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) for his tireless efforts to promote collaboration between FDI and WHO. Professor Petersen was an active member of the FDI's Public Health Committee, which was at the time known as the World Dental Development and Health Promotion Committee. He was a regular attendee at FDI mid-year committee and council meetings and actively contributed to FDI’s work to promote oral health.
Representing WHO, Professor Petersen worked diligently on many FDI-WHO joint articles and publications and was one of the authors of the FDI-WHO Advocacy guide for oral health professionals on tobacco or oral health. FDI is grateful for his work on WHO’s full involvement and co-organization of many regional events, such as FDI-WHO Planning Conference for Oral Health in the African Region in April 2004 in Kenya and Global and Regional FDI-WHO Fluoride consultation conferences in France and in China.
His departure from the WHO due to illness left a massive gap that was deeply felt by the organization. However, Professor Petersen's legacy lives on through his many contributions to the field of global oral health.
FDI is deeply grateful for Professor Petersen's unwavering commitment to advancing global oral health. He will be missed by all who knew him, and his contributions will continue to inspire future generations of oral health professionals.