Cultural predicament in the utilization of oral healthcare among Kenyan female caregivers of children with HIV/AIDS
Objective: To determine the influence of cultural beliefs and practices among a cohort of female caregivers on the utilization of oral healthcare for children
Design: A hospital-based cross-sectional and exploratory study.
Setting: The out-patient HIV-facilities at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Getrude Children’s Hospital (GCH) and Mbagathi County Referral Hospital (MCRH) in Nairobi City County (NCC).
Subjects: Two hundred and twenty-one female caregivers of children with HIV/AIDS attending the HIV-facilities at KNH, GCH and MCRH.
Results: Caregivers had poor recognition of dental illnesses, and mainly attributed dental caries and discoloration of teeth to the use of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). They had diminished value for teeth, particularly the deciduous dentition, with tooth extraction being the preferred remedy for a painful tooth in a child. They had strong myths and folklore surrounding ‘teething’ in infants, including the belief that ‘plastic’ or ‘nylon’ teeth in infancy causes severe childhood illnesses. They were not averse to seeking traditional healing for dental conditions in infants and children.
Conclusion: Female caregivers of children with HIV/AIDS in NCC have systems of cultural beliefs and practices on oral health and illness management of infant and childhood conditions which are prejudicial to the timely utilization of oral healthcare for children.