By Nkiruka Nnorom
In an effort to curb the spread of NOMA disease across Nigeria, Colgate in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigerian Dental Association has commenced series of awareness programme and promotion of preventive measures across the country.
The awareness exercise has culminated in a visit to the only NOMA Children Specialist Hospital in West Africa at Sokoto State for situation analysis and visit to one of the largest primary schools in Sokoto to enlighten the pupils.
NOMA also known as Cancrum Oris is an infective destruction of tissue of the cheek, mouth or nose and at times, it affects the whole face when left untreated. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, “the causative agents of NOMA disease are majorly malnutrition, confections – measles and malaria – and poor oral hygiene. In addition to that, a number of social and environmental factors such as maternal malnutrition and closely-spaced pregnancies that result in offspring with increasingly weakened immune system could be strongly related to the onset of the disease”.
The World Health Organization since 1994 declared NOMA a public health problem and has estimated that some 770,000 people are affected, a conservative estimate according to some commentators mostly in the poorest regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Asia and South America, with an incidence of 140,000 new cases reported each year.
Dr. Mustapha Abubakar Danjega, Chief Medical Director, NOMA Children Hospital, Sokoto, said although NOMA is mostly prevalent in children between two to six years, however, there have been cases of children below nine months battling with the infection, who are currently undergoing treatments and intervention in the facility.
“It is such a pleasure to have the Colgate and government teams visit our hospital to check on patients and give out Colgate toothpaste and toothbrush to everyone,” he said.
Omotayo Abiodun, Public Relations Manager, Colgate Tolaram Group, speaking during the visit to Gidan Salihu Model Primary School, Gidan Igwai, Sokoto, said: “It gives us so much joy to witness the level of turn out and interest being expressed by these pupils. It shows that once the information gap is bridged, particularly in these affected areas, tremendous improvement is guaranteed.”
Dr. Bola Alonge, Head, Dentistry and Oral Health, Federal Ministry of Health, said the federal government recognizes the issue as a major problem, which must be tackled, saying it informed the reason for the collaboration with Colgate to ensure that NOMA disease is eradicated. “We also have some programmes lined up for the upcoming NOMA week where 10 nations are expected to come together to deliberate on the NOMA endemic.
“Due to the fact that it is more rampant in this part of the country where enlightenment is quite low, that is why we advocate that enlightenment programme should be taken to the grassroots for prevention, which is always cheaper than cure,” Alonge said.