Noma, also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis, has recently been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This move aims to elevate awareness, stimulate research, secure finding and intensify efforts to combat this rare yet severe infection. Noma primarily affects impoverished communities in tropical and subtropical regions, particularly targeting children aged 2 to 6 years old.
What is Noma?
Noma is a rapid and severe infection that primarily affects the soft and hard tissues of the face and mouth. It starts as a small ulcer, often following illnesses like measles and progresses swiftly, causing extensive tissue damage and potentially leading to death in up to 90% of cases.
Symptoms of Noma Disease
The symptoms of Noma Disease are listed below:
- Incredibly painful with symptoms like fever, foul breath and weight loss.
- Challenges in eating and speaking, impacting well-being significantly.
Survivor Consequences of Noma
- Enduring consequences include permanent disfigurement and disabilities.
- Social stigmatization and functional impairments persist.
Demographics at Risk
Noma primarily targets children aged 2 to 6 years old, especially those living in extreme poverty. Lack of access to adequate food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare facilities contributes to its prevalence, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Prevention and Treatment
- Improve living conditions and healthcare access.
- Ensure proper nutrition, immunization, oral hygiene and sanitation.
- Antibiotic therapy, wound care, pain management and nutritional support.
- Surgical interventions for dead tissues removal and facial reconstruction.
Need for Action
There is a profound lack of accurate and updated data regarding the prevalence and distribution of Noma. This gap, coupled with limited awareness among healthcare workers and communities, contributes to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment.
Research and Intervention
Increased research efforts are crucial to understanding the causes and mechanisms of Noma, facilitating the development of more effective drugs and preventive measures. Urgent action is needed to provide training, resources and awareness campaigns for Noma prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.
What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)?
NTDs encompass a group of over 20 conditions that disproportionally affect marginalized populations in tropical and subtropical regions. They often lead to blindness, limb loss, chronic pain and even death, affecting more than 1 billion people worldwide. Despite their profound impact, NTDs receives less attention and funding compared to diseases like HIV/ AIDS or malaria.
Causes and Transmission
NTDs are caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins and can be transmitted through insects, water, soil and other means. They trap individuals in a cycle of poverty, hindering education, work and the ability to earn a living.
Control and Elimination Efforts
International efforts to control and eliminate NTDs are growing, with the WHO establishing a roadmap to achieve this goal by 2030. Affordable interventions such as mass drug administration, vector control and improved sanitation play a crucial role in these efforts.
Important Questions Related to Exams
Q1. Why was Noma recently added to the WHO’s list of Neglected Tropical Diseases?
Sol. To elevate awareness, stimulate research, secure finding and intensify efforts to combat the severe infection.
Q2. What is the primary demographic affected by Noma?
Sol. Children aged 2 to 6 years old, especially those in extreme poverty.
Q3. What are the consequences for survivors of Noma?
Sol. Enduring consequences include permanent disfigurement, disabilities, social stigmatization and persistent functional impairments.