The Federal Ministry of Health has joined partners and representatives from Niger Republic, Benin, Madagascar and others to launch the National Noma Control Policy document approved at the 2019 National Council on Health.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Monday, commemorated the third edition of the National Noma Day with the launch of the document.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that 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, as parts of measures adopted to eliminate the disease.
Noma, otherwise known as Cancrum Oris, is a fulminating, gangrenous infection of the soft tissue around the mouth, predominantly affecting younger persons with poor oral hygiene and predisposing them to serious illness.
NAN reports that the theme for 2019 is ‘Timely Recognition Averts Deformities.’
Ehanire said that the ministry worked in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and other stakeholders to develop the National Noma Policy Document and the Triennial Noma Control Action Plan (2019-2021).
He said it was approved at the National Council on Health in August 2019.
He defined Noma as an infectious, opportunistic disease which affects people living in extreme poverty and more prominent in communities with poor nutrition and hygiene.
The minister advised that early detection and treatment were critical in halting progression of Noma, noting, however, that “the disease generally responds to antibiotics treatment.”
According to him, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says Noma disease can be found anywhere in Nigeria, but more prevalent in the North-West region.
He disclosed that the Federal Government embarked on sensitisation activities in high-prone states of Kebbi, Jigawa and Sokoto to raise awareness of the disease.
Mr Philip Aruna of Medecins Sans Frontieres – Holland, said that the aim was to create awareness for Noma disease and make sure it was prevented in the country.
According to Aruna, timely identification, treatment and follow-up are critical in the management of Noma disease.
Dr Clement Peter, WHO Officer-in-Charge, said that Noma should be a disease of the past, not of the current generation.
Peter added that Noma disease had disappeared from the developed world but remained in Sub-Saharan Africa for reasons related to poor sanitation, malnutrition and others.
According to data by WHO,over 500,000 people are affected and 140,000 new cases are reported each year across the world, while mortality rate is approximately 90 per cent.
An official statement by the ministry in 2018 noted that Noma was mostly found among children below the age of six and predominantly high in the North-East due to insurgency and lack of good nutrition.
The statement indicated that “though the disease is not contagious, other ailments such as hepatitis, malaria and some childhood killer diseases can