The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is a federal agency and one of the institutes of health focusing on “cranio-facial-oral” and dental diseases. The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers is a non-stock, non-profit organization focusing on dental and oral care for the state of Massachusetts. This essay will compare and contrast these two agencies on aspects of how programs and strategies are implemented at the federal and state levels to promote oral and dental care.
The NIDCR and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers have the same mission and objective, i.e. to enhance health, oral and dental care through partnerships with the public sector and advocacy groups. They differ in scope and strategies as NIDCR has a goal of addressing health issues of national significance through scientific research, whereas the Massachusetts League acts on problems and issues of health of statewide significance by helping community centers achieve their goals of promoting health and dental care. The Massachusetts League has more flexibility over federal organizations because it can focus both on statewide and local issues. The League’s funding mostly comes from donation whereas NIDCR has an annual national allocation of $400 million, coursed through the United States Department of Health and Human Services (NIDCR, 2015).
The NIDCR’s main activity is scientific research and it has several strategies to achieve this, such as conducting its own research, or partnering with other organizations to do dental and craniofacial research for national application. The research topics may include oral cancer, infectious diseases, or simple gum diseases.
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers is a state-level organization which focuses on statewide primary and dental care. It is not involved in scientific research but is more concerned with helping community health centers achieve their goals of providing health and dental care for the state population. Community health centers have recently been the focus of attention as these help in increasing access to health and dental care, particularly in the state of Massachusetts (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016).
NIDCR’s mission is broader in scope, as it is a national public health organization whose mission is to: perform and support necessary, scientific, and translational research; lead and provide training and education, including career development of staff and people in the agency; conduct knowledge transfer attained through research; and enhance the organization’s relationship with the general population through continuous health programs (NIDCR, 2015). The NIDCR effectively accomplishes its goals by using a set of strategies, such as employing scientists who use scientific tools and testing in researching a complete range of subjects about dental and craniofacial problems and sicknesses, and partnering with the public sector in calling for actions to promote oral and dental health (NIDCR, 2014).
The NIDCR strategic plans for 2014 up to 2019 are broken down into four goals. The first goal is to achieve the best scientific finding in dental and craniofacial care (NIDCR, 2014). The second goal cited by NIDCR is to allow exact and tailored health care through effective research. The third one is to use arduous research involving various disciplines to conquer differences and discriminations in oral and health care (NIDCR, 2014). And the fourth goal mentioned in the organization’s website is to guarantee that a competitive and effective research team is committed to enhance oral and dental health. Plans and activities are all based on these four goals.
Resources that may include material and knowledge of the Massachusetts League emphasize community service for health and dental care. Its staff consists of duly-certified physicians, licensed nurses, nutritionists, registered dentists and many other dental and medical service providers. The state of Massachusetts has 49 health community organizations, with 35 active and operating dental clinics in the different places within the state (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016a). These active clinics are expanding by initiating health and dental projects and services to other areas needing such services. The Massachusetts League has committed for bigger programs from the time it began in 2000, and has dedicated all its resources to its mission of providing dental and primary health care, at a time when the need for affordable, quality oral care is in demand (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016b).
The Massachusetts League was formally formed in 1972 and is a source of information for leaders and policy makers about community-based issues concerning oral and dental care (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016a). In addition to technical assistance, it provides analysis on federal health regulations and policies affecting community health centers and dental clinics. It also assists health center staffs and administrators through training and education and development.
The League is working with many of its stakeholders in solving medical and dental problems. Its activities are aimed to reinforce the existing oral health, which is being funded by another organization, the Denta Quest Foundation (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016). This foundation provides grants for quality dental health care research and for community and national projects. The League’s role in the partnership is to lend technical assistance and further provide knowledge sharing.
In its website, the Massachusetts League describes health centers as those providing necessary, precautionary oral and dental care. Health centers also provide care for people with mental problems, those involve in substance abuse problems and other health-related problems. Community health centers are at the periphery of tackling some of the most frustrating problems in the health industry. The League assists in providing health insurance for the socially and economically disadvantaged members of the community and eradicating health inequalities among racial and ethnic groups (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016). It gives assistance such as quality oral and dental care programs to patients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The League traces its history from the roots of community centers where physician activists first established the American Community Health Center Movement some five decades ago. Two health centers were launched in Dorchester and in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Despite political and social upheavals, health centers remained true to their mission of giving medical aid to patients (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016b). In order to address the complex role of health and dental care, the staff work to screen, prevent, and manage the various common diseases plaguing patients of all ages. The work on dental and craniofacial health is also complex and well managed to integrate this with primary health care, such as pediatrics, adult and family medicine, and so on (Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 2016a).
NIDCR collects information and conducts scientific research for craniofacial, oral and dental care. The Massachusetts League is a source of information for policymakers and government agencies for primary care and oral and dental care. They seem to have contrasting roles and responsibilities but they point to one direction and ultimate goal – health of individuals.
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. (2016a).: Clinical quality initiatives. Web.
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. (2016b).: History. Web.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2014): NIDCR strategic plan 2014-2019. Web.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2015).: Fast facts. Web.