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Stakeholders descry low coverage of NOMA immunization

By Ernest Nzor, Abuja
23 November 2022   |   11:40 am
Stakeholders at the National Orientation Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and Medecine Sans Frontiers, on Tuesday, decried the low level of immunization coverage on the Noma scourge in Nigeria.

… call for increase access to NOMA education

Stakeholders at the National Orientation Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and Medecine Sans Frontiers, on Tuesday, decried the low level of immunization coverage on the Noma scourge in Nigeria.

The stakeholders who spoke in Abuja, at the commemoration of the 2022 national NOMA day and scientific conference, with the theme, ‘NOMA, A Disease That Should Not Exist Anymore ’. They also emphasized the need for increased access to Noma vaccination and education among the people for the prevention and management of the disease.

Director-General of, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, said that the agency has embarked on a health enlightenment programme for rural dwellers on the need to address NOMA disease.

Abari, was represented by its Deputy Director, Public Enlightenment and Mass Mobilization, Theresa Maduekwe, who noted that as part of its effort to draw attention to the scourge of NOMA disease in Nigeria, NOA is the only agency that has the mandate to sensitize Nigerians on the need to end NOMA disease in society.

NOA boss urged religious and community leaders, stakeholders and the media to intensify awareness creation about NOMA to improve the prevention of the disease and the health-seeking behaviour of people with the disease.

In his address, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the neglect of Noma is a major humanitarian concern that requires the attention of National and International organizations.

He said: “Noma is an infectious and yet, a non-contagious disease which rapidly eats away the hard and soft tissues as well as the bones of the face and results in the creation of a bizarre craniofacial disfigurement.

“The disease progresses very rapidly and without rapid treatment, the patient’s condition becomes life-threatening. Noma leads to death in 90% of the cases and affects children between the ages of 2 and 6 years suffering from malnutrition, extreme poverty and a weakened immune system.

“Survivors that make up the remaining 10 percent suffer severe facial disfigurement, have difficulty in speaking, eating and they face social stigma. Noma is a gangrenous disease affecting young children that rapidly destroys the soft and hard tissues of the face and leads to massive loss of substance with obvious esthetic prejudice and functional sequelae.”

In his remarks, NOMA representative in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr Peter Ajanso, said NOMA immunization coverage in Nigeria is very low. I can tell you that from our survey, 27% of northern children have received zero vaccines and what that means is that the students have not received even a single vaccine.

“Some states have a higher percentage of children who have not received a single dose of vaccination, which is worrying. Vaccination is one of the preventable ways that we can eliminate Noma. So, vaccination should be encouraged in the community and enlightenment of the disease should be broadcasted.”

Also, Gloria Uzoigwe, the national Noma desk officer at, the federal ministry of health, also noted that Nigeria now have international surgeons in the country to carry out free surgery,

she said: “We have partnered with the government to sensitize the community on the vaccination that is safe and it will help not only for Noma disease but other diseases. The most common sign and symptom is the development of an ulcer in the mucous membrane of the mouth before spreading to other parts of the face.

“If detected early, the condition can be arrested with antibiotics, proper nutrition and oral hygiene while late diagnosis even if treated does not restore disfigured or damaged tissues”.

However, the Country Director, NOMA Aid Nigeria Initiative, Dr Charles Ononiwu, also said that treatment of Noma is completely free at the national hospital Abuja.

He said: “When you bring patients to Noma center at the national hospital Abuja. Their transportation will be taken care of, and their feeding and caregivers will be taken care of. So, they don’t need to worry about money in their pockets for treatment.”