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zohair oral health student
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Oral health student negotiating policy to strengthen universal dental care

25 June 2020
Oral health student selected to attend World Health Assembly
Zohair Kazmi is a third-year Bachelor of Oral Health student and one of four Australian students selected to represent as a Global Voice Scholar at this year's World Health Assembly in Geneva in November.

Sydney oral health student Zohair Kazmi is Vice-President of the Sydney University Dental Association.

The Global Voices National Scholarship program identifies and develops the next generation of Australian leaders by providing selected students with practical experience in policy writing, diplomacy and international relations and supporting them in attending high-level international diplomatic forums and meetings.

Zohair said he was attracted to the opportunity after undertaking his clinical placements in the public health system and recognising the impact of oral health on overall health. "The ramifications of this hit hardest for low and middle income populations, where accessibility and cost are major barriers to care", he said.

Now in his final year of the Bachelor of Oral Health, Zohair says he has been immensely priviledged to treat dental patients within the public health system but he is particularly interested in assessing oral health problems at a population level and achieving oral health equity among disadvantaged populations.

I’ve witnessed first-hand the effects of ill-conceived health policy, a distinct lack of preventive care in low-socioeconomic populations, and the anxieties and concerns of the modern patient.
Zohair Kazmi

As part of his appointment, Zohair is undertaking a policy fellowship throughout the year to investigate ways to strengthen the public dental service workforce in NSW, which will work towards achieving universal dental care for all.

During his scholarship, he will have the opportunity to meet with relevant policy experts and members of the government to discuss issues related to national health policy, foreign affairs and the focus area of his policy paper, and then in November, he will have the unique opportunity to learn from the global health discussions at the 73rd World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) acts as the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), where the member states, civil society and other stakeholders meet to discuss global health issues and decide on strategic priorities for their nations.

This year, the pandemic will form the centre of all global health discussions, however, Zohair is also interested in learning more about other how other issues like universal health coverage; health and climate change; and non-communicable disease (NCD) management and prevention can be translated into Australian oral health policy.  

Zohair says, "Using the experiences gained from the national scholarship, and all that it entails, I aim to be a vocal part of Australia's oral health policy conversation and become a globally conscious health-practitioner."