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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Dec;57(11):2183-91.

The burden of traditional practices, ebino and tea-tea, on child health in Northern Uganda.

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Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Traditional medical practices persist today in Northern Uganda; for example, the operations of ebino and tea-tea are frequently performed in childhood. Ebino, or "false teeth", refers to gingival swellings during the eruption of the primary canine teeth in infants, and consists of the extraction of deciduous canine tooth buds. Tea-tea consists of systematic cuts made on the chest wall when the child has difficulty in breathing. The objectives of this study are to describe the morbidity and mortality related to complications arising from the ebino and tea-tea procedures among children admitted to the paediatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital Lacor in 1999, and to estimate the prevalence of ebino and tea-tea among children aged 0-4 years attending, for any cause, the child welfare department (CWD) of the hospital. The prevalence survey consisted of the examination of 1,995 children attending CWD during a four-week period in 1999 to look for missing primary canine teeth (ebino), and for "therapeutic" cuts on the chest wall (tea-tea). In the difficult context of war and social disruption prevailing in Northern Uganda, sustainable methods of data collection and analysis should be utilised to support evidence-based decision-making.

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