Noma Disease: What You Should Know About Fast-spreading Oro-facial Gangrenous Disease

Apparently, there is a disease that affects children under that infant age of 5years, fast spreading in the northwest part of Nigeria we should pay attention to. This disorder most often occurs in severely malnourished children between the ages of 2 to 5 years. According to MedlinePlus , Often they have had an illness such as measles, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, or cancer. They may also have a weakened immune system. If deliberate care is not taken to curb the disease, it might soon become rampant and another common disease in Nigeria that could have been prevented. Noma is not a common disease, but typically occurs with other neglected diseases and malnutrition

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In August 2018, a research report was published on the American-based science publication, Science Daily, citing a research on Noma disease: Noma, a rare disease found predominantly in underserved areas, causes progressive destruction, or gangrene, of the tissues of the face and jaw within just the span of one week. According to the report, researchers have analyzed about 74 cases of noma in northwest Nigeria alone.

It has roughly been estimated that children affected with the disease are most likely to die. About 90% was given as the estimate chance for children. While children who survive are imprinted with facial disfigurement for the rest of their lives.

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“Between the years 2015 and June of 2016, the 74 cases of noma disease were all admitted and studied by doctors in a medical facility in Sokoto state. Although the disease is reported to be found mostly along the stretch of Senegal to Ethiopia, there has been cases of noma in other part of the world.”

The National Noma Day is held annually to raise awareness of the non-contagious oro-facial gangrenous disease that affects tissues of the face and causes deformities. Nigeria has marked the day every November 20 since 2017, in the light of eliminating the disease.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehinare, gave a description of the disease as “an infectious, opportunistic disease which affects people living in extreme poverty and more prominent in communities with poor nutrition and hygiene, ” reports Punch.

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Preventive Measure For Noma Disease

Primary prevention of noma disease can be achieved by economic development which ensures that parents can feed their children adequately. Food security programs are effective. Primary medical prevention of noma consists of measles vaccination programs and the prevention and treatment of concomitant diseases, such as HIV and malaria. Secondary prevention, including the detection and treatment before visible symptoms is difficult and requires surveillance programs in areas of famine and poverty where limited resources are already stretched to the limit by other health priorities. Tertiary prevention of the disease consists of methods to reduce the negative impact of symptomatic disease, such as disability or death, through treatment and rehabilitation. Noma should not be targeted alone, rather, should be included in neglected disease, poverty, malnutrition, and health education programs.

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  1. It is unfortunate that when Noma strikes most African mothers think that it is curse or witchcraft. But the reality is as stated by MedlinePlus,is a disease that escalates from other deadly diseases. I have once served in East Africa and my surprised some homes would adamantly refuse drugs, thanks to our able working team that managed to convince the society to give children drug, supply food supplements and even carryout operations to protect lives.
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