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January 2017

Central Africa Medical Mission – Lutheran Mobile Clinic - Malawi, Africa
January 2017

Psalm 126:2 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

Imagine never receiving any education about brushing your teeth.  Imagine never being aware that you shouldn’t use regular soap to brush your teeth.  Imagine never having a toothbrush.  Imagine the pain of a toothache with only Tylenol to relieve the pain.  Imagine the 2-3 hour ride in a crowded bus to get to the hospital so you can see a dentist.  This is the situation many Malawians face concerning their dental hygiene.  

Lutheran Mobile Clinic sees many cases of toothaches and other dental issues and the only thing we can do at our clinic sites is to prescribe Tylenol and refer them to a hospital about 2-3 hours away.  Because of this issue, LMC decided to collaborate with an international dental organization called TeethSavers to bring dental education and screenings to the patients we serve at our four clinic sites in rural Lilongwe.  

Each clinic started off with a devotion lead by a church elder, as we do every other clinic day.  Our usual health education was replaced by oral hygiene education provided by a TeethSavers representative.  They discussed the proper technique for brushing teeth, how often to brush, what they should use to brush and when to seek further dental care.  TeethSavers then answered questions by the patients.  During the education portion of the presentation, children and young adults were separated from the larger group to receive a slightly modified health talk.  After their education, they received a toothbrush and were screened for other needed services like teeth cleanings, fillings, and tooth extraction or removals.  TeethSavers aims to save the 6-year molars and therefore targets children 6-18 and young adults.  All other patients received a toothbrush and the education.  

The response from our patients was overwhelming.  They were so happy to receive new information, screenings, and a toothbrush. I saw so many smiles and heard many kind words from the patients we saw.  I had a Malawian man from Suzi come up to me and personally thank me for bringing such a great service to them.  The passage from Psalms reminds me that it wasn’t me that brought this service, but it is the Lord providing this blessing to them.  

One of the highlights of the week was when Chief Kamkadzule of Suzi told TeethSavers and myself that, “This is my first time since my birth to receive such kind of health instructions.  I didn’t know anything about oral hygiene.” After the distribution of toothbrushes, he also took some time to talk to the smaller group of children and young adults.  He encouraged them to use the information they learned to help them keep their teeth healthy.  Having the chief present says a lot about the work the Lutheran Mobile Clinic and TeethSavers are doing together.  

In total over 1,300 people received toothbrushes and screenings!  TeethSavers was so impressed with the turnout.  We plan to continue the collaboration in 6 months and hope to continue growing the services provided.  We look forward to sharing the gospel message with those coming to receive our regular care and our new dental services when TeethSavers visit.  We thank the many ladies groups and schools that collected over 20,000 toothbrushes and those that helped donate toward the postage to get them to us in Malawi.  This generosity assures the program stability for several years. May our mouths be filled with laughter and our tongues shout for joy all the great things the Lord has done for us! 

Your Sister in Christ, 
Amanda Oswalt
Nurse-In Charge  Lutheran Mobile Clinic
Lilongwe, Malawi