Refugee oral health promotion and care

This World Refugee Day, let’s unite to deliver timely oral healthcare to refugees globally

Together, let’s ensure that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, receives timely and appropriate oral healthcare, recognizing oral health as a fundamental human right!


As the world prepares to observe World Refugee Day on June 20th, the spotlight turns to the ongoing humanitarian crises affecting millions globally. This year, FDI emphasizes the critical yet often overlooked aspect of refugee health: oral health. With an unwavering commitment to this cause, FDI is supporting two vital projects focusing on improving oral health for refugees in Bangladesh and Pakistan.


Bangladesh: Addressing Oral Health Needs of Rohingya Refugees

Since 2017, approximately 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled persecution in Myanmar, seeking refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now the world's largest refugee camp. The massive influx has strained resources and heightened the health needs of both refugees and the host community. Despite the known global prevalence of dental caries, affecting most adults and 60-90% of schoolchildren, little attention has been given to the oral health needs of this vulnerable population.

FDI, in collaboration with the Refugee Crisis Foundation (RCF), has launched an initiative aiming to shift from merely treating oral diseases to a preventive approach, reducing the burden of oral diseases through community engagement and promotion of good oral health practices.


Pakistan: Enhancing Oral Health Services for Afghan Refugees

In Pakistan, where approximately 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees reside, access to proper oral health services remains inadequate. Particularly in Karachi, 26,716 Afghan refugee families face significant challenges due to a lack of nearby dental facilities and financial constraints.

FDI's project in Afghan Basti, Karachi, aims to improve early detection and prevention of oral diseases, ensuring timely interventions and fostering sustainable oral health practices among refugees.


Global Advocacy and Policy Recommendations

In February, FDI participated in a High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) in humanitarian settings in Copenhagen. Key messages included advocating for the incorporation of oral health services into health systems planning and emphasizing the importance of oral health even in displacement situations.

In collaboration with UNHCR, FDI will also launch a policy brief with recommendations to:

  1. Integrate oral health into primary healthcare systems for refugees.
  2. Increase support and funding for oral health strategies in host countries.
  3. Develop culturally appropriate oral healthcare programs.
  4. Prioritize oral health education and literacy programs.
  5. Integrate oral healthcare into established public health programs.
  6. Establish data collection mechanisms on refugee oral health.
  7. Empower refugee communities through involvement in decision-making and advocacy.


Looking Ahead

FDI's dedication to improving refugee oral health will be further highlighted during the FDI World Dental Congress in Istanbul this September, where a special session will focus on these critical issues.

As we commemorate World Refugee Day, FDI's initiatives in Bangladesh and Pakistan serve as a reminder of the essential role oral health plays in overall well-being and the importance of inclusive health strategies for all, including the most vulnerable populations.

Discover more
  • refugee policy brief
    Access the new policy brief advocating for improved oral health for refugees
  • Oral Health for Refugee
    Refugee oral health promotion and care project

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