Friday 19th February 2021

Last week we attended a conference from MSF and the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) addressing noma. We want to share this film from Inediz Reportages to raise awareness about noma.  



 

Noma is a gangrenous infection which starts in the mouth and is typically associated with less developed areas of the world that has insufficient water supply and that experience food insecurity, making good hygiene difficult and causing malnutrition.

In just two weeks, noma can destroy the tissues of the face and has a 10% survival rate in rural populations. Those who survive noma are left essentially with holes in their faces, which can cause many physical problems and also issues with speech, eating and drinking and also huge stigma from their communities. Many noma survivors describe how people in their communities are afraid to interact with them, excluding them from important opportunities such as education, cultural and religious events, friendship and marriage.

Project Harar’s medical volunteer cohort includes world specialists on noma. And from our research and that of other brilliant organisations such as MSF, facial surgery for noma survivors can leads to reduced stigma in their community. Similar to other complex facial disfigurements in Sub-saharan Africa, a lot of stigma is derived from a lack of understanding surrounding noma. Project Harar Programme Officers and extended team of multidisciplinary health and social workers, operate year round to spread positive and accurate health messaging into rural communities, working with health bureaus and institutions on a regional and national level to break down the negative stigma of noma and to arrange treatment for survivors.

Once a year Project Harar have a surgical collaboration with Yekatit-12 Government Hospital in Addis Ababa, where world specialists in noma and other complex facial disfigurements work with the team in Yekatit-12’s Maxillofacial and Plastics department to provide reconstructive surgery for 30-50 individuals from rural Ethiopia. This year we have been unable to hold our surgical collaboration programme due to Covid, but will be conducting a remote follow up programme to monitor patients progress. We will also continue with our surgical programme when it is safe enough to do so.

We hope to one day live in a world where noma does not exist, please consider sharing and supporting this important work.