By AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE, Abuja
The federal government has been urged to institute a national intervention programme that will draw out a pragmatic approach to tackling Noma disease in the country.
Noma (cancrum oris) is a gangrene that develops in the mouth and rapidly spreads to other parts of the face.
The disease is almost found exclusively in conditions of poverty, poor living conditions, poor hygiene and malnutrition and if not treated leads to death in 70-90 percent cases. Malnutrition is a major factor that pre-disposes people to the disease.
The executive director, Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI), Dr Ver-or Ngutor, made the call when he spoke to a select journalists yesterday in Abuja to mark the 2017 Noma Day.
OHAI is a non-governmental organisation advocating for better attention for the prevention and treatment of Noma.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its resolved to tackle the menace set the 22nd day of May every year to unite efforts of all the bodies actively involved in the prevention and control of Noma with, an emphasis on developing synergies both locally and internationally, through information exchange and collaboration to draw the needed attention to eradicating the disease.
“The federal government should establish Noma control programme just as it has done for diseases such as Tubaculosis and Leprosy and station at the grassroots as a step to tackling the disease as well as generating data about persons infected”, Dr. Ngutor urged.
According to him, preliminary research done by OHAI has revealed that greater percentage of Nigerians are ignorant about the disease as many believe it is witchcraft and seek services of traditional healers when affected by the disease.
Dr Ngutor further explained that as a result of the knowledge gap, cases of Noma disease are first taken to spiritual centres and when eventually visits hospitals, the disease would have reached an advanced stage.