Stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector have urged the World Health Organisation, WHO, to classify noma as one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, so as to stimulate researches that would lead to development of better diagnostic methods, treatment and control strategies.
The call is sequel to the 69th World Health Assembly approved resolution recognising mycetoma as a neglected tropical disease, where it also provided for a systematic, technically-driven process for evaluation and potential inclusion of additional diseases among the neglected tropical diseases, of which noma fits into the outlined criteria.
This was contained in statement signed by Dr. Ver-or Ngutor, executive director, Oral Health Advocacy Initiative, OHAI, a non-governmental organisation.
Noma (cancrum oris) is a contiguous disease that destroys the soft and hard issues of the face. Sadly enough, public attention has not been given to this infection that leads to death in 70-90 percent cases, experts lamented.
The statement also noted that malnutrition is a major factor that pre-disposes people to noma disease.
In this vein, OHAI in collaboration with Africa Initiative for Health Innovation, Advocacy and Development, AIHIAD, is organising a conference for stakeholders to strategise on how to kick -tart the process of including noma as one of the neglected tropical diseases, considering its ravaging effects on the vulnerable population.
Noma current status as a neglected tropical disease is bottleneck to raising awareness and funding opportunities for its diagnosis, treatment and control.
“Today, noma remains a problem where high malnutrition rates are rampant. Reports by WHO confirms that Africa, in particular but not exclusively, the sub-Saharan states, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sudan have the highest incidences of individuals affected by noma,” the statement noted.
It further explained that the conference, which is scheduled to hold in Abuja, would among other aims create awareness on noma disease in Nigeria and its devastating effect on the patients, advocate for prioritisation of noma as a public health problem in Nigeria, and highlight the capacity gap in management, care and support of noma patients in Nigeria.