Mrs Ute Winkler Stunpf, representative of NANI made the disclosure at the ground breaking ceremony of the Centre in the country, situated within the National Hospital, Abuja.
The 100-bed capacity treatment centre, by the German charity organization would provide free reconstruction surgery to children with the disease, it would also provide for their feeding and schooling while they are undergoing treatment at the centre and bring succour to the children affected by the disease.
Noma is an infectious and non-contagious disease which rapidly eats away soft tissues and bones around the face, resulting in an awful disfigurement that does not fail to draw attention.
Speaking during the ground breaking, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said, “Nigeria has Noma mortality rate of up to 90 per cent and almost invariably affects children from the age of 2 to 6 years, with poor health status resultung form abject poverty and malnutrition.
“Those who survive it suffer life-long disfigurement from defects of the face that make eating, speaking and social relationships difficult. Social exclusion and stigma are the result.
Ehanire also said, “Noma is primarily an illness that thrives under severe malnutrition, neglected oral health and personal hygiene, poor environmental sanitation, all among illiterate and in mostly rural areas. Predisposing and triggering factors are vitamin deficiencies, opportunistic infections, including measles and malaria, and any immune compromising condition.”
World Health Organization (WHO), Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, in a similar vain explained that Noma is in the face of poverty, as nine out of ten children die from the disease, but however, leaves those who survive with disfigurement and stigmatisation in their community.
The WHO’S country representative who was represented by Dr Alexander Chimbaru, noted that poor hygiene and diseases like measles weakens the immune system hence subjecting it to lack of imunity against other ailments.
Reiterating WHO’s continued support for Nigeria, Chimbaru affirmed that the citing of the noma centre will go a long way in serving the Noma patients, because Noma is a severe disease that is treatable if well managed.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the National Hospital, Dr Jaff Momoh, explained that the hospital was selected out of several others dueto its manpower support and specialties, and also for it’s centrality in terms of location.
“Because the disease disfigures the face, muscles and the bones of the mouth, we are going to require maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, dentists to fix the teeth and rearrange them, and even speech therapists, all of whom we have at the National Hospital,” he said.
The Board Chairman of National Hospital Abuja, Mrs. Patricia Ette for her part encouraged well meaning Nigerians to support the government efforts in terms of health care provision and services.
“Nigerians should emulate foreigners. We can’t just be waiting for foreigners to come and be assisting us always. This is a live in facility for 100 children solely financed by this foundation. The woman said she is going to finance it, she is going to maintain it and fund it all the way. Even feeding and schooling of the children while they are in the hospital.”
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