Health Education in Argentina

Written by Olivia Puddicombe
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Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to witness some Argentinean health education.  My boss asked me to accompany him to a local 'jardin' where he and a group of women, the 'promotadores de salud' were going to give a talk about dental care.  The women spend their days arranging and giving educational health talks all around the town.  I had sat in on a few of the meetings prior to the talk and seen them planning every detail.  They made a huge billboard-esque poster showing a playground full of flowers (personally cut by me!) and teeth!  This was the stage for the play they had written about dental hygiene - four puppets are playing in the park and one tells a joke.  As they laugh they notice the joke tellers black tooth.  This leads to the talk given by another of the promoters and Fernando, who used to be a dentist.  Using a plastic mouth and toothbrush they teach the children how to brush their teeth, how many times a day etc.  Fernando then sang a teeth-brushing themed song which the children adored!  The talk finished with the promoters handing out free toothbrushes and despite uttering the fatal words 'what colour would you prefer?', everyone ended up with a colour they liked and the children went out to play very happy! 

I was amazed that dental hygiene was a subject that the children needed to be taught about.  I was taught to brush my teeth by my parents, I definitely do not remember having people come to my school and teach me how to brush my teeth.  However in Argentina dental hygiene is a problem and a lot of people tend not to bother with it.  Having seen how many adults and children come into the 'sailta' with awful teeth you understand the importance of trying to educate the children.  The amount of effort that was put into the talk was great - from the amazing poster, to the well thought out play, to Fernando's song.  Everything was purposely meant to make the children pay attention, learn and have a good time as well which they definitely did! 


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