dental pain: costing an education

Posted in: Blog, by Rachel Purdy, on 4th December 2014 | Comments Off on dental pain: costing an education

Agnes came with her mother to the training programme in the remote Tarime, Mara region in October 2014. She had a swelling on the right hand side of her jaw and was obviously in a lot of pain. She had walked with her mother for half an hour to reach the training programme from her village.
For the last year, Agnes has been unable to sleep at night; she has only been able to eat porridge and has also had to take days off school because her pain was so bad.
Agnes is only 7 years old. Agness 3
Like Agnes, 16% of patients visiting a Bridge2Aid dental training programme are students. The majority (68%) of patients attending a dental training programme only have a primary school education, 18% have had no formal education and only 11% have a secondary education.
15% of the patients questioned said that the dental pain had affected their education; of those, 8% failed to attend school, 6% said the pain reduced their ability to concentrate on their studies and 1% said it prevented them from allowing them to prepare for exams that would allow them to continue to next year’s classes.
Education is already beyond the budget of many rural Tanzanian families; it is estimated that 15-20% of children under the age of 15 in Tanzania do not go to school1 due to reasons such as not having the correct school uniforms and equipment, to having to help with agricultural work or looking after younger siblings. Agness 2
Based on our previous programme data, another 8% of primary aged children in the rural areas of Tanzania potentially will not attend school due to dental pain.
Agnes was one of the lucky ones. The Clinical Officer found that she had a badly decayed, broken tooth which was causing the pain and the swelling and removed it. The Clinical Officer also gave Agnes and her mother some oral health information which will help them to prevent the same problem happening in the future.
Agnes is now able to return to school, sleep at night and eat again properly, thanks to the Bridge2Aid dental training programme.

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