President of the Republic of Fiji


Ratu Sukuna Memorial School Friday, 26th July, 2013
NABUA 12.30p.m.

• Mr. Nicholas Ryan, General Manager of Colgate Palmolive
• The Principal, Mr Filimone Vatuvoka, the Teachers and the Students of Ratu Sukuna Memorial School
• The Principals, Head Teachers, Teachers and Students of all the Participating Schools in the 2013 National Toothbrushing Day
• Dr. Francis Fonousimae, Head of Oral Health for the Ministry Of Health in the Solomon Islands
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Good day, ni sa bula vinaka, salaam alaykum, namaste

I am greatly honoured to join Colgate Palmolive for the second time as Chief Guest to celebrate Fiji’s National Toothbrushing Day. On the first occasion, I was chief guest in 2009 at the Dudley Primary School.

It is very fitting that this year’s celebrations are being held at Ratu Sukuna Memorial School – one of the top secondary schools in Fiji - whose stirring motto proudly announces “to high things we strive”. In a way, we are doing exactly that today!

We have come to another National Toothbrushing Day and just as we have had in the past, we will have many more in the future because brushing our teeth is so important that it should become a habit that we cannot live without.

Toothbrushing is not just a mere exercise to keep our teeth clean and healthy and to give each one of us a beautiful smile. It is certainly much more than having a clean and fresh breath.

Toothbrushing, if we are wise, is also about our future and especially those of our future leaders – the youth and children who are here today and the many others all over the country.

The National Tooth Brushing Day was initiated five years ago in collaboration with the Ministry Of Health and The Fiji Dental Association. At that time, there were only 6,500 registered participants.

This number increased by over 18 times the following year when there were 120,800 participants. In 2010 there was an increase to 145,574 participants, followed by a further increase in 2011, when there were 161,030 participants.

Last year 162,340 participants participated during the National Tooth Brushing Day event. Today you are all part of the number for this year.

However, whilst the number of participants in a National Tooth Brushing Day is important, what is more important is that every day at least twice a day - I wish to stress that - every day at least twice a day - should be set aside for tooth brushing time.

You are all getting a new tooth brush today. Ensure that you put that brush into good use. Maintaining clean healthy teeth will go a long way.

Miguel de Cervantes, a famous Spanish novelist of yester-years once said and I quote “every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond” unquote. There is so much truth in this saying.

Everyone wants to look good. A way to looking good and to feeling good is to have a bright healthy smile. And strong, healthy teeth would certainly brighten the smile.

So now when you think of your teeth, consider them to be more valuable than diamonds. Only then will you take good care of them and brush them at least twice a day.

Why do we need to have a national tooth brushing day like today?

Firstly, dental professionals have confirmed that ‘brushing our teeth properly at least 2 times a day with fluoride toothpaste’ goes a long way in keeping our teeth and gums healthy from decay and gum diseases.

So, Colgate Palmolive has put together this program to create and increase awareness on the importance of tooth brushing.

Secondly, the free supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste for the event is to encourage everyone to have their own toothbrush and start brushing.

If you have been following closely, you will have noticed that the number of participants has continued to increase every year. Today about 166,000 fijians all over fiji will be joining you in teeth brushing at 12.30pm.

Since its inception in 2008, the event has mostly targeted primary schools. This year, Colgate Palmolive, the Ministry of Health and the Dental Association have decided to target secondary schools because there are no specific oral health programs for them.

Students from a total of 424 schools including 105 secondary schools will also be participating with you today.

Additionally, a total of 140 organisations have also joined in this year’s national campaign. This is very encouraging.

At times like this, such programs continue to remind us as a nation about the importance of brushing our teeth and maintaining its upkeep. What we are going to do is a worthy cause.

The good news is oral health survey results have indicated an improvement in the oral health status of the young adults in fiji.

For this, we are grateful to Colgate Palmolive [Fiji] Limited, the Ministry of Health and the Fiji Dental Association. My gratitude and that of the nation also goes out to the various schools, the organisations and all the individuals participating in today’s exercise.

I am advised that the Solomon Islands, with the help of Colgate Palmolive, is also celebrating its National Toothbrushing Day for the first time this year.

Students, ladies and gentlemen, may the results of the past national tooth brushing days and those of today continue to be beneficial to fiji and her people.

I now take great pleasure in launching the 2013 National Toothbrushing Day.

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu, sukria, bahoot dhanyavaad.