At the 3rd National Noma Day program in Abuja put together by the Ministry of Health, Colgate Tolaram the makers of Nigerian consumer choice oral care brand has pledged to render necessary support towards the efforts in eradicating the Noma endemic in Nigeria.
NOMA also known as Cancrum Oris is the infective destruction of the tissue of the cheek, mouth or nose and at times the whole face when left untreated. According to the World Health Organization “the causative agents of NOMA disease are majorly malnutrition, coinfections – 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 systems, could be strongly related to the onset of the disease”.
The National Noma Day event themed “Timely Recognition Averts Deformity” had in attendance the Honorable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, representatives from World Health Organization, delegates from 10 African nations, Nigerian Dental Association among other dignitaries coming together to deliberate on the Noma endemic in Sub Saharan Africa.
Speaking on behalf of Colgate, Opeyemi Awojobi who delivered a goodwill message stated that the team’s visit to the Noma specialist hospital in Sokoto the previous week has made it more compelling for the brand to further get involved in the effort to curb the prevalence of NOMA disease in Nigeria. “It was emotional seeing innocent children suffering from not only the excruciating pain it poses but also the life-time disfigurement it leaves behind”.
Ignorance about the disease is another problem mitigating against the efforts of timely management, however, Colgate Tolaram has committed working with the government to champion a campaign on oral hygiene targeted at over 15 million children across Nigeria by the end of next year.
Honourable Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire with stakeholders Launching the National Noma Triennial Plan during the National Noma Day in Abuja.
At the event, the Federal Government raised concerns that Noma disease is silently killing Nigerians, particularly in the north-western states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa and other states outside the northwest, notably Akwa Ibom.
Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his remarks, expressed optimism that the newly launched Noma Policy Document and the National Triennial Action Plan would go a long way in raising public awareness about Noma disease.
L-R: Dr. Evelyn Eshikena, President, Nigerian Dental Association, Opeyemi Awojobi, Sponsorship manager, Colgate Tolaram, Dr. Gloria Uzoigwe, Head, NOMA Awareness, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Omotayo Abiodun, Public Relations Manager, Colgate Tolaram during the National Noma Day Program in Abuja.
He confirmed that Noma disease can be significantly reduced, or even prevented, if national awareness of the disease, improved nutrition can be promoted.
“We need to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life, education on prenatal care and personal hygiene, oral hygiene, timely immunization against common childhood diseases, improved environmental sanitation and poverty reduction,” he said.
The Coordinator, National Noma Control Programme, Dr Bola Ige, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the Africa regional Noma workshop in Abuja on Monday, disclosed that 90 percent of people that have the disease do not survive, with the remaining 10 percent permanently disfigured.
She disclosed that in spite of the fatality of Noma disease, Nigeria has no workable policy to respond to the crisis, neither does it have statistical data on the disease because of paucity of funds and insufficient manpower to carry out a comprehensive national survey.
“We don’t have funds to finance a national survey on Noma. However, we have applied for grants and other sponsorships to enable us to conduct the survey. For now, we work with figures we receive from public hospitals, particularly the Noma specialist hospital in Sokoto,” she said.