Pate, Health Ministry RAN autonomy
Prof. Muhammed Ali Pate


FG: Fight to Eradicate Noma Disease in Children

The minister of health and social welfare, Prof Ali Pate, on Wednesday, restated the federal government’s commitment to eradicating Noma disease affecting children from two to five years.

This was announced at the commemoration of the 2023 National NOMA Day and Scientific Conference in Abuja by Prof Ali Pate.

The theme of the event titled “Noma Control: The Panacea of Lasting Solution”, with the sub-theme “Building Expertise, the Key to Eliminating Noma”

Noma is an infectious yet non-contagious disease which rapidly eats away the soft and hard tissues, as well as ones of the face, resulting in the creation of bizarre craniofacial disfigurement.

It is a rapidly progressing infection with a devastating impact on those affected; it is present in locations particularly where extreme poverty is rife.

According to the minister, the federal government has not rested on its oars until this disease is totally eliminated from the country

The minister, who was represented by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Daju Kachillom, said a number of actions had been taken by the Nigerian government to control the disease.

According to him, observing the ‘Noma’ day is a veritable platform the government uses to raise awareness about the disease.

He added that the awareness would help in the active identification and treatment of those already affected, map and collaboration with implementing partners to strengthen control.

”Noma is known to affect vulnerable populations living in poverty and in remote areas of the country who do not have the necessary amenities of life.

”They are plagued with conditions that lower the victim’s immunity, leading to severe morbidity and mortality in the populations.

”Most cases of Noma occur in children between the ages two to five years; Other risk factors include chronic or acute malnutrition, lack of access to healthcare, as well as poor oral hygiene.

“if left untreated, Noma is associated with a 90 per cent mortality rate within weeks. Its survivors are confronted with societal stigmatisation, discrimination and social isolation,” he said.

The minster said that in tandem with the global drive with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Noma should not exist as a disease.

He added that its prevalence was an indicator for urgent action to be taken in the quest for accelerated implementation of SDG 111 and ensuring the realisation of Universal Health Coverage.

“The National Noma control programme has been established mainly as a preventive measure to raise awareness about the disease.

“Training of healthcare workers, surveillance officers, community mobilisation officers, traditional rulers on early detection, treatment referral of cases and proper data collection.

”The federal government has also established the National NOMA Technical working group, consisting of specialists in different areas, who advise the ministry on the best way to combat the disease.

“This edifice we are commissioning today will be housing Noma patients and their caregivers. Noma patients undergo series and different stages of surgeries before their face restored,” he added.

He said the ministry would help in the promotion of the programme and new discoveries that would lead to the control of the disease, adding that finding the course of the disease was very vital.

In his remarks, the chief medical director, National Hospital Abuja (NHA), Dr Muhammad Raji, commended the ministry of health for its efforts to eliminate Noma in the country.

According to him, the Noma Centre commissioning today is the 7th of its kind, which is a major milestone as we continue to advance in the eradication of the disease.

”Noma is associated with pains and tremendous suffering; it is a battle we must win, and establishing the centre is a great achievement.

”This centre serves as great hope for those suffering from the disease. To our partners, we assure you that our team will do their best, and NHA is committed to eliminating Noma,” he said.

Also, Dr Mary Dawa, a World Health Organisation(WHO) representative, commended the Minister of Health for his effort to tackle Noma in the country.

Ms Dawa said that such a move would further spotlight Noma in order to receive the required attention it deserves.

”The theme of today is very apt, as tackling Noma requires government and society approach to proffer a lasting solution.

Dr Tope Adeyemi, president, called for effective collaboration among stakeholders to assist victims of Noma disease, adding that such would help in the control of the disease.

In addition, those present at the event were royal fathers and representatives of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), among others.