Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire

Government raises awareness to prevent Noma disease

The Federal government has joined the global community to commemorate the National NOMA day 2019 in Abuja.

The purpose of the event with theme: Timely Recognition Averts Deformity, sub-theme: Raise Awareness to Prevent Noma, is to scale up awareness of the disease towards preventing the disease in the country.

In his keynote address, the Minister of Health, Dr E. Osagie Ehanire, said that Noma disease can be reduced and even prevented, first by promoting national awareness of the disease and improving nutrition including promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life.

He added that education on prenatal care, personal hygiene, timely immunization against common childhood diseases, improving environmental sanitation and poverty reduction are very key while stressing that detecting Noma early and treating it can halt and largely reverse the devastating impacts of the disease.

While reiterating on the need to ensure that immunization programmes reach all segments of the population, the Minister charged participants drawn from over ten countries from the African region to do their best to develop best practices in preventing, controlling and managing Noma disease.

On the part of Nigeria, Ehanire disclosed that Nigeria has established the National NOMA Control program in collaboration with the WHO which aims to boost awareness of NOMA, its prevention and care.

He also informed that the Health Ministry has embarked on a number of national trainings, step down trainings and sensitization activities in high burden States such as: Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa and Akwa Ibom, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, to increase surveillance, case finding and prompt disease reporting.

 Ehanire further announced that the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders has developed the National NOMA policy document and the triennial NOMA control action plan [2019-2021] which was approved in the National council on Health in August 2019.

 Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Abdulaziz M. Abdullahi, charged participants to commit to finding workable ways to control and possibly kick out the gory disease in the sub region, ensuring that the Ministry would consider the outcome of the meeting for implementation with relevant partners.

Also speaking, the WHO, officer-in-charge Nigeria, Dr. Clement Peter, said ‘’NOMA has disappeared in the developed world but 140,000 still suffer from Noma every year due to poverty and malnutrition in the African Region. He however reiterated the commitment of WHO to partner with Nigerian Government to ensure that Noma is a disease of the past.

NOMA is an acute ulceration of the mucous membranes of the mouth or genitals; often seen in undernourished children.

Enefaa Bob-Manuel

Head [Media and Public Relations]