Letters

Dental news

I live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working in five health zones in Ituri and Uele districts in the eastern province. As part of our work with oral health, we carried out a survey and found these results:

  • 80% of people have one or more dental cavity.
  • 75% are unable to attend a dental clinic, either for financial reasons or because of the distance involved.
  • 25% have lost teeth because of an untreated cavity.
  • 95% have poor oral hygiene – which is the primary cause of dental cavities and is due to lack of knowledge.

This serious situation has been overlooked by all health authorities. We took the initiative to train Mr Basali Achalina as an oral health agent to help us create a mobile dental service. He is working to improve the situation by using an ordinary torch to light up the mouth, performing dental extractions and making dentures without a cutting or polishing machine, just using a file and sandpaper to polish them.

We are unable to carry out fillings as we lack the materials and the means to do them. We would appreciate any suggestions, advice or help so that we may work together to promote good oral healthcare in our area.

Beakaka Mangbaiso, Medical Service for Oral health, Dieu voit tous Dentistry, PO Box 8D4, Arua, Uganda

Potato skins

We appreciated Footsteps 48 promoting traditional medicines. For serious burns, we recommend a dressing made from muslin cloth with boiled potato skins attached with a paste of wheat flour. The potato skin layer is placed on the burn with the inner layer of the potato next to the skin. It does not stick to the burn and so prevents the scarring that often happens when skin rips as dressings are changed. The idea comes from India. The dressing must of course be sterilised before use. You could steam it over a pan of water.

Readers may also be interested to know that we export, free of charge, supplies of second-hand spectacles for distribution to the poor. People try on many pairs and often find a pair that is suitable. However, we do ask that people pay for the postage and any customs duty.

Jimmy Richardson, 78 Hutton Road, North Entrance, NSW 2261, Australia

Sharing information

I have been receiving Footsteps since 1996. To begin with, I found it simply enough to read it and learn about work in other areas of the world. I learned to under-stand different ways of life and different ways in which communities resolved their needs. But soon I came to the conclusion that it was not fair to acquire this knowledge and not share it. This led me to ask for more magazines to share with the leaders of our evangelical fellowship which covers four provinces here in Ecuador.

Now I distribute the magazine to these leaders and also pastors in several districts. Together we reflect on the topics appropriate to each place, whether urban or rural, and endeavour to apply those that are most suitable. We do not have many written resources here and lack access to radio, TV and newspapers. We have been particularly interested in the information about fish farming, urban gardens, mosquito nets, solar driers and the role of the church in development and advocacy. We hope to set up our own library.

Whenever I visit the pastors I remind them about recent topics and ask what they have done with the information.

Pastor Isidro Alcivar, Iglesia Evangélica Chipe Minuape, Casilla 151, Quevedo, Ecuador

Time management

My church programmes cover every day of the week. There was often a poor attendance at our meetings, which I considered to be through lack of interest and commitment. So I started a campaign of ‘Time Management’ with the following illustration. We all have 24 hours each day to be used and managed by us. We only need to sleep and rest for 8 hours. If we live for 60 years, this means that we will sleep and rest for 20 years! The official working period is 8 hours, which represents another 20 years. The question we now need to ask ourselves is what do we do with the remaining 8 hours; the other 20 years of our life?

We should use it to serve our God if we don’t want to serve our enemy, the Devil! This campaign changed the lukewarm attitudes of our members for the better.

Mr Isaac Olanipekua, Box 35961, Agodi PO, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria

Nutritious flour

We produce flour using various different ingredients, the main one being Soya flour. It is 100% natural and we encourage people to use it with malnourished children between six months and five years old. After testing children over an eight-month period with this flour, the result is that the children are putting on 1kg of weight for every 2kg of this flour used in cooking.

The flour is a nutritious mixture of 24 ingredients. These include maize flour, powdered oats, wheat, oat and rice bran, roasted and ground pumpkin seeds, dried, roasted and ground cassava, okra and sweet potato leaves, linseed, sesame seed, gelatine, wheat germ, wheat flour, powdered cow’s milk, powdered soya milk and brewer’s yeast. It contains a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, essential minerals and vitamins.

The flour only costs on average $2 per month per child. I would encourage anyone interested in finding out more to contact me (in Portuguese!).

Revd Alexandre Ferreira Pevidor, Cx Postal 358, Pato Branco, Parana, Cep 85 501 100, Brazil E-mail: afp@qualinet.com.br

Problems wanted!

Have you got a technical problem that needs solving? I am a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham, and as part of our course I am looking for engineering problems to set my students. Possible ideas include:

  • the design of a seed planter that doesn’t require the user to bend
  • an ‘alternative’ fuel stove
  • a device to seal plastic bags cheaply and safely.

If you have any other suggestions, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Dr Mike Clifford, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK E-mail: mike.clifford@nottingham.ac.uk

Child-to-Child activities

My lay reader class were eager to learn about health issues, so I set them the task of preparing Child-to-Child classes and then teaching children at our local Dispensary. It was a great success! Both the students and the children learned about health and the babies were better looked after. Other classes have followed. Child-to-Child materials are very easy to use and stimulate good discussions. They are available from TALC. The photo shows our successful Child-to-Child Programme Certificate day.

Mr Martin Carr, Archbishop Janani Luwum Theological College, Gulu, Northern Uganda