Plenary Speakers

Dr. Benoit Varenne

The Planning Committee is honored to have a representative from the World Health Organization open the conference with a keynote address titled Oral Health as an Essential Component of General Health.

VarenneDr. Benoit Varenne has served as Regional Adviser on Oral Health for the WHO African region at the World Health Organization Regional Office in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, since August 2010. He is also the region’s focal point for the mHealth initiative for non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). In his work, Dr. Varenne contributes to the promotion of oral health, and prevention and control of oral diseases.

In previous roles, Dr. Varenne worked as a public health consultant for several years, advised WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean region and worked closely with numerous NGOs and other international health organizations in the field of oral health. He has assisted ministries of health, health authorities and health care planners in several parts of the world with a special focus on Africa.

Dr. Varenne graduated from the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France in 1993 with a degree in dentistry and holds a Ph.D. in Public Health and Epidemiology from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris VI). Dr. Varenne has also studied community oral health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Dr. Benoit Varenne is currently working on the "Oral Health Action Plan 2014-2020 for the WHO African Region — Prevention and Control of Oral Diseases Integrated with NCDs.” This strategic document is the first oral health policy aligned with the Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 and other NCD policies.

Dr. Sudeshni Naidoo

NaidooDr. Sudeshni Naidoo is a Senior Professor and Principal Specialist in Dental Public Health and Deputy Dean for Postgraduate Studies and Research at the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. She is also Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Oral Health.

Dr. Naidoo, who will give the closing keynote on advancing community health, is involved mainly with post-graduate education and training. Her main research focuses on Infectious Diseases and Infection Control, particularly HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and TB, with a specific focus on health education and health promotion; ethics, bioethics and research-related ethics; the disadvantaged with regard to oral health care, oral health quality of life, trauma and child abuse.

She has written vaccination policies on ethics, research ethics, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B; published and presented on these topics and others and successfully supervised over 45 Masters and Doctoral students.

Having attended the 4th International Women’s Leadership Conference, Dr. Naidoo compares dentistry to “a small fraternity in the health care sector,” creating more of an impetus for dental educators and practitioners to work together toward a common goal.

Dr. Naidoo has been a member of the Medical and Dental Professional Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and Chairperson of the Postgraduate Dental Education Committee. She is also past National Vice  President of the South African Dental Association, Immediate Past President of the South African Division of the International Association of Dental Research and current Vice President of the International Dental Ethics and Law Society.