The Hon. Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has reiterated the commitment of Federal Government towards reducing cases of Noma disease in Nigeria.
Dr. Ehanire gave this assurance during the opening ceremony of the 2nd Edition of the National Noma Day and workshop in Abuja, recently.
Dr. Ehanire noted that Noma, otherwise known as Cancrum Oris, was a fulminating infection of soft tissue around the mouth, predominantly affecting younger persons with poor oral hygiene and predisposing serious illness.
He further said that ‘’Epidemiological data on Noma is still scarce, but a current estimate of the global incidence is some 30,000 – 40,000 cases per year, with a mortality rate of approximately 85% and a disease burden estimated to cost anywhere between 1 & 10 Million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).’’
He informed that ‘’Noma is the scourge of communities with poor environmental sanitation and hygiene practices, occurring as a result of a complex, not fully yet understood interaction between poor nutrition, infection and immunodeficiency.’’
‘’Common diseases like malaria, measles, severe diarrhoea and particularly, necrotising ulcerative gingivitis commonly precede the development of Noma, he added.
Dr. Ehanire pointed out that it could be managed relatively easily by administering antibiotics which would prevent or limit the extent of gangrene.
He stressed that prevention and early detection of this devastating disease would be given high priority toward reducing incidence and improving the chances of those who contact the disease.
He emphasised that ‘’Noma can be prevented by a combination of common measures like creating more national awareness of the disease, reducing poverty, improving hygiene, sanitation and nutrition, promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life, improving prenatal care, vaccination against common childhood disease and above all, early detection and treatment of ulcerative gingivitis and stomatitis.’’
The Minister lauded the efforts of developmental Partners like the World Health Organisation African Region (WHO Afro), Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF-H), Hilfsaktion Noma and others for developing some of the best strategy towards tackling Noma scourge in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, FMOH, Mr. Abdulazizi Abudllahi said that the awareness on oral disease especially Noma was low among the rural dwellers in Nigeria, which led to the Federal Ministry of Health to institutionalize the National Noma day, to be celebrated annually so as to bring together various stakeholders towards increase awareness on this devastating disease in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Nigeria Head of Mission Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, Phillip Aruna, said that the organisation in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health had been running a programme dedicated to the treatment of Noma in Sokoto Children’s Hospital.
“Patients come from all over Nigeria for treatment, with the big majority from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States. Four times per year, MSF sends high-profile plastic and maxillofacial surgeons, nurses and anaesthesiologists to work together with Nigerian specialists on performing reconstructive surgeries on Noma patients,” he said.
In his remarks, the WHO Officer in Charge of Nigeria, who was represented by Dr. Alex, Mpazange, said that for effective control of Noma, it required a multisectoral approach and urged other key Government sectors, partners, foundations and individuals to join effort to control the disease.
Mrs. Boade Akinola,
Director, Media and Public Relations,