Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fluoride Program

This week we may have finally made some headway on a program that we have been interested in for quite awhile. For those who have been here, you have probably noticed the poor condition of peoples teeth and in particular those of the children between the ages of 5 and 18. We have seen many of these young people loose quite a few permanent teeth and it always seems to be the 2 front teeth. So we have been discussing with various dentists the benefits of a fluoride program. When we first looked into this it seemed the cost could be high and it could be a difficult process.

We have been reviewing this for last couple of months with the dentist that works with us, Marcos Lux, and he was involved in this type of program during his internship with the university and the government health system. They focused these programs in certain schools and have continued to see improvements in the children. Thus, we finally found a good time and a location to purchase the fluoride. It turns out that the cost will be extremely inexpensive, about $50 for a bottle of 1000 fluoride tablets. Then we only need 3 tablets for about 60 children. The kicker is the children must swish the treatment every week.

Since the cost is extremely low, we decided to run the idea by some churches and so far the interest has been tremendous. We have been trying to educate the churches and people in our clinics to focus on better oral hygiene and one of our promoters, Gaspar, has done some classes in his church and has also started to do these classes in some of our ABC Program (child sponsorship program) communities.

This provided us a great time to discuss a program with some of the churches and they are very interested in taking on this project themselves. So this last week we met with 2 communities who were going to start today - Mactzul 6 and Xepocol. We tallied the cost and it will be under $2 per month for most of the churches (many will be under $1) to be able to start using fluoride for each of the children in the church between the ages of 6 and 19. Each church will pay for a month worth of the pills and we will supply the fluoride once a month during our clinic visits. In turn, they will administrate the program with the children in the churches and keep a running log of the children that are participating in the program. Their goal is to reach 100% of the children in the church and not just the ABC sponsored children and the cost will be bore solely by the church. We also have some other churches discussing the program as well and we feel that we will have buy in by most of the churches.

The beauty of the program is it is inexpensive and relatively easy to administrate as no application is necessary as the child must swish the solution in their mouth for at least 5 minutes. I tried it and it is a little taxing, but there is not much flavor so not too bad.

Our goal is to reach all of the churches where we have the clinic ministry and then to reach all of the other churches in the area. Then, we have also spoken with the churches that our combined goal could be to eventually reach the school of the community. Lofty goals, but we think achievable as do the churches we have discussed this with.

Please pray for continued positive reception and that it can work out to be a long lasting program administered and promoted by the local churches.

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