I would like to share with you all a fantastic article written by our President and Vice President of Nana’s House outlining the currents problems facing children in regards to dental hygiene and our dental camp being held on September 18th in Leknath, Nepal in conjunction with our partner organization, Hope Nepal.
A MESSAGE FROM NANA’S HOUSE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT
Judy Schumann and Marsaili Vanderhoeden
As president and vice-president of Nana’s House Board of Directors, we would like to thank all of our followers and supporters and update you on our first big project to impact the quality of life for children in Nepal. We are so excited that Nana’s House, through your generosity, is able to provide financial support to our partner, Hope Nepal Association for Social Welfare, for a dental clinic in Leknath, Nepal.
On September 18, our director, Josh Bingham, along with two dentists, dental assistants, three oral health educator/counselors, three members of the Hope Nepal team and volunteers will make the forty-five minute drive from Pokhara up steep mountain roads and then trek another fifteen minutes up the hillside with supplies and equipment. They will be providing check–ups and cleanings, toothbrushes and toothpaste, education and educational materials and counseling. Anyone needing fillings or extractions will also have those services provided to them. We will schedule and subsidize transportation and follow up procedures for individuals needing more extensive work in Pokhara. Future plans include providing eight month checkups in the village to ensure ongoing dental health.
Why hold a dental clinic? Rural villages in central Nepal, at the base of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas, are populated by subsistence farmers. Most live in mud houses. They often trek an hour or more to tend their fields of wheat and rice. Few are fortunate enough to have a buffalo to provide the milk which would bring needed calcium into their diets for bone and tooth health. Electrical service is sporadic and plumbing is non-existent. Intermittently staffed government health outposts can treat very basic illnesses but do not provide any oral health care. Laura Spero, a U.S. dentist who has run a non-profit to address these issues in Nepal for ten years, found only a pair of rusty pliers as dental equipment in one of these villages.
Leknath is one such village. While visiting there Josh was able to talk with the orphaned, abandoned and needy village children through an interpreter. Many told him their teeth hurt. Imagine as a child suffering from severe tooth pain and your only option is to wait until it falls out or can be pulled out (if you are ‘lucky’ enough to have that service provided). How difficult for parents to watch this and then worry about the risk of infection and even death due to sepsis because you know proper health care would not be available to treat it.
An article from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting by Jennifer Miller, dated September 5, 2013 stated the following:
“Nepal is currently facing an oral health care crisis. Fifty-eight percent of children and sixty-nine percent of adults in the country suffer from bacterial tooth decay. This can lead to infections, gum disease and chronic pain as well as heart disease and diabetes……..Thousands of Nepalis in rural villages have no access to basic care such as (check-ups) fillings or even (toothbrushes and) toothpaste. Meanwhile intense superstition surrounds dental care, including the belief that tooth extraction can cause blindness (and deafness). In Kathmandu, people nail coins to a tooth god shrine to heal their mouth pain. “
Additionally, new mothers are routinely told not to brush their teeth for two months after giving birth. There is stigma associated with the use of fluoride as well as an economical issue. A tube of non-fluoride toothpaste costs $0.26-0.52 (US) and fluoride toothpaste costs $0.92 (US). This is a significant monetary diffrence in the average Nepali household. Research shows that Nepali men are more skeptical and resistant to the use of fluoride than women.
Education and counseling are an integral part of changing these cultural attitudes and superstitions.
By making a real effort to educate Nepali women; the children, and especially young boys, receive the encouragement they need to continue to practice good oral hygiene as adults. In 2006 fifteen women in a rural village were educated and trained in proper dental care. A follow up study two years later showed that this information had been passed on to 2,200 women and over 4,000 children in the region. As an investment in the future, our dental clinic on September 18 will service, educate and counsel not only 100+ children but parents as well.
Your past support is greatly appreciated. Funding is still needed to carry out this project and future plans for more rural dental clinics as well as health clinics and follow up care. Please share our contacts with friends and family!
CLICK HERE to make a donation.
*****WATCH FOR INFORMATION AND PHOTOS SOON FROM THE LEKNATH DENTAL CLINIC******