As part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of persons affected by noma disease and possible elimination of the disease in Nigeria, non-governmental organisations operating in the country have been urged to consider noma disease prevention and management as one of their areas of intervention.
The Executive Director of Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI), Dr. Ver-or Ngutor made the call in Abuja while speaking at the noma stakeholders meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Dr. Ngutor explained that noma has been in Nigeria for a long time but many were ignorant about the disease as some attributed it to witchcraft. He however, opined that the noma policy document being developed by the stakeholders will give impetus to efforts towards management and total elimination of the disease.
“Noma has been here in Nigeria for a long time. However, not much effort has been channelled towards its management. A lot of NGOs are intervening in other diseases such as leprosy, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids amongst others but the same cannot be said of noma. I appeal to NGOs in the country to consider noma as one of their intervening areas.
Noma (Cancrum oris) is a gangrene that develops in the mouth and rapidly spreads to other parts of the face. The disease is almost found exclusively in conditions of poverty, poor living conditions, poor hygiene and malnutrition and if not treated leads to death in 70-90 percent cases.
To up awareness and galvanised support for noma prevention and management, Dr Ngutor explained that OHAI organised the first national conference on noma in September 2016 to galvanise efforts to ending noma in the country.
He expressed satisfaction that a lot of stakeholders were beginning to look towards noma control and management.
Also speaking, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu represented by Dr. Lynda Ozor, explained that WHO identifies noma as a health issue that deserves attention of all.
Hence, Alemu added that at the 48th session of the regional committee held in Harare in 1998, a revolution was adopted to enhance the prevention and control of noma disease.
Alemu further stated that several reports confirm that Africa in particular but not exclusively the sub-saharan states Chard, Ethiopia, Mali, Muritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan have the highest incidences of individuals affected by noma.
According to Alemu, since 2001, the WHO/AFRO has been operating a regional programme to fight noma with the primary goal of eradicating the disease in the African region which remains the highest hit.