Poverty is a major cause for Noma disease in Nigeria ― Health Minister

THE Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has identified poverty as the most important risk factor for Noma disease which mostly strives in chronic malnutrition, poor environmental sanitation, and oral hygiene.

Adewole stated this at the inauguration of National Noma Technical Working Committee (TWC) and Installation of Noma Champion in Nigeria on Thursday in Sokoto.

He described Noma as an acute devastating oro-facial gangrene that occurs mainly in children between the ages of two and six.

The Minister who was represented by Dr Joseph Amedu said the disease destroys the soft and hard tissues of the oral and para-oral structures.

He explained that the survivors of the disease may exhibit facial mutilation, impaired growth of the facial skeleton and nasal regurgitation of food.

Other affections according to him were leakage of saliva, defective speech, and chewing difficulties, which he identified poverty as the most important risk factor causing the disease.

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He further disclosed that the diseased thrives where is chronic malnutrition, unsafe water supply and residential proximity to livestock and increased exposure to viral and bacterial infections, poor oral hygiene are among the major sources.

According to Adewole, the NOMA disease is preventable particularly if modifiable risk factors are addressed, such as malnutrition and to ensure that the immunization programmes get to the affected populations as well as early detection and treatment.

He revealed that the Federal Government established the National Noma Control Programme in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) geared toward creating awareness and working preventions.

” I expect the TWC to facilitate awareness creation, training of social actors and health workers on early detection, prevention, and appropriate referral.

He added that the committee members were distinguished Professors and specialists who possessed vast experience in handling Noma cases.

He said representatives of International agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and government agencies were included to facilitates more success.

The Sokoto state Commissioner for Health, Dr Ali Inname, has called on Federal Government to takeover Noma Specialist Hospital owned by the state due to enormous responsibilities the facility needs.

The Commissioner who was represented by Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Almustapha Ali, said the hospital is the only hospital catering for Noma patients in the area.

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He said the facility rendering specialized services needed to enhance resources and urged Federal Government to consider taking over so as to expand it with necessary instruments and manpower.

In their separate goodwill messages, WHO Field Officer, Mr Aliyu Abdullahi and Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF), Mr Philip Aruba, expressed optimism that the effort assists in addressing the menace.

The Field Officers said their organisations would continue to support in addressing the disease which mostly ravages sub-Saharan Africa in various forms.

The duo of Mrs Therisa Maduweke and Dr Fatima Hassan from National Orientation Agency (NOA) and National Center for Diseases Control (NCDC) also pledged to work in partnership with the committee and agencies on prevention and increased public awareness on the Noma

In the acceptance speech, the TWC chairman, Prof. Abdulrazak Habib from Bayero University Kano, assured to toward achieving the required success on addressing Noma disease in the country.

Habib, a Professor of Infectious Diseases urged group members, agencies and the public to support them on the drive and pledged to implement policies and programmes according to the committee mandates.

Speaking earlier, while delivering her welcome address, Dr.Bola Alonge, Head of Dentistry Division, Federal Ministry of Health described Noma as facial gangrene that develops inside the mouth and spread rapidly to the surface.

She described the advocacy for the prevention and eradication of Noma a necessity, saying lack of enlightenment and harsh socio-economic has further increased the incidence of Noma from 6 in 1000, with a mortality rate of 70-90%, if not properly treated with antibiotics as well as antiseptics.

The crown Champion of Noma Disease, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, expressed appreciation over the recognition and said he will use National Tradition Rulers Council in achieving the overall success of the programme.

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