Action Against Infant Oral Mutilation

A-IOM aims to deter the practice of removing children's teeth when they present with illness such as temperature. Reports indicate that there are strong cultural beliefs that the swelling in the area of the gums associated with the un-erupted cuspids (also referred to as ini, plastic teeth or nylon teeth) is a cause of persistent fever and diarrhea.

A traditional healer is consulted to remove or lance this area of the gums. Village traditional healers note swellings in the areas corresponding to unerupted canines that look paler than other parts of the jaw ridge and relate this to the cause of the child’s illness. In most instances, the lower cuspids are extracted bilaterally, but the extracting of upper cuspids and lower incisors has also been reported.

To stop the spread of this practice, Kinga Africa in partnership with like minded stakeholders running a campaign deemed ‘Action Against IOM’ in Machakos County. The components of this campaign include community education forums, training of community health volunteers (CHVs) and primary school teachers, educating mothers in pre and postnatal clinics and also targeting the traditional healers. The campaign’s main goal is to clear this myth and also equip the communities with knowledge on teeth development, hence saving the children all the hazardous results of the practice. Children are contracting HIV and other infections from IOM- Masinga Sub County has five confirmed cases. Other children die because of dehydration caused by prolonged diarrhea that goes untreated after the children's teeth have been removed. The pain cause is unimaginable. We need a more support to muzzle this practice