Understanding our Teeth
Over the last three months over 1000 people have participated in health education classes run by On Call Africa.
We’ve been joined on our team by an experienced practice nurse who identified some key topics for learning over the last term. Our programme has been based on discussions with local nurses, community health workers and headteachers from village schools. Oral hygiene, clean water and good nutrition have been the three main themes.
Health education is offered to two groups. Firstly, schoolchildren aged 7 to 17 have had specially developed lessons to help them learn about. Secondly, people waiting in the queues for our clinics have been able to access teaching about these same themes. By reinforcing the messages across the community we hope that a whole family approach to hygiene and nutrition will be embedded in home life.
Feedback from participants has revealed some insight into what the participants have learnt. Following teaching about cleaning teeth participants said: “This is really useful – I did not know that you should brush up and down”, and “We did not know about sugary drinks being bad for the teeth.” Encouragingly many were saying:“We will start to brush our babies’ and children’s teeth.”
Health education sessions on water led one young man to reflect: “I thought cola drinks are good but it contains sugar and acid which is bad for teeth.” From across the sessions we heard people feeding back that: “We have learnt what happens to water in the body,” and “I will try drinking more water for my headache.” There was clear leaning about the wider benefits of proper hydration with several people reporting: “We have learnt about drinking more water for breastfeeding and for constipation,” as well as the observation that “Alcohol is bad for causing dehydration.”
Evaluation of the health education programme from over the past three months is feeding into planning and preparation for health education next term. Continuity and progression in understanding should follow from continuing developments in liaison between health workers and teachers as well as our volunteer team.
What to eat to help us stay healthy