By Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with Francis Muthama of the organization Kinga Africa, engaged in Kenya against INFANT ORAL MUTILATION.
Part II of the interview can be found here.
IOM is a traditional practice violating children’s health rights. Before the interview a definition of this practice from the article “Infant Oral Mutilaton – A Child Protection Issue? By Girgis S., Gollings J., Longhurst R., Cheng L., 2016.
Infant oral mutilation (IOM) is a primitive traditional practice involving the ‘gouging out’ of an infant’s healthy primary tooth germs. This can lead to transmission of blood-borne diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, septicaemia and death. Other complications include eradication and/ or malformation of the child’s permanent dentition. IOM is usually performed by village healers in low income countries as an accepted remedy for common childhood illness. The gingival swelling of the unerupted teeth is mistakenly thought to indicate the presence of ‘tooth worms’. Crude methods to remove these are employed using unsterile tools. IOM has been reported in many African countries. More recently, some immigrants living in high income countries, such as the UK, have shown signs of IOM. Our aim is to raise awareness among clinicians about the existence of IOM practice being carried out among respective African immigrant groups. We encourage clinicians, particularly those working with paediatric patients to inform parents and carers of children with a history of IOM about the risks and consequences. As part of child safeguarding policies, dental practitioners and health care professionals should intervene if they are aware of any perceived plan that IOM is to be carried out in the future.