NOMA DISEASE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci & Tech)

News-CRUX-10     20th December 2023        

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) recently added one of the world’s most underrecognized health challenges, noma, to its official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

Noma Disease

  • About: Also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis, it is a severe gangrenous disease of the mouth and face with a mortality rate of approximately 90%. It is also associated with extreme poverty, malnutrition and poor access to sanitation and oral hygiene. 

oThe disease is also called the ‘face of poverty’, as effective drugs like sulfonamides and penicillin and adequate surgical treatment for the effects remain inaccessible for many due to extreme poverty.

  • Affected group: It mainly affects children aged 2-6 years old and is found most commonly among those living in poor communities. There is an extreme lack of awareness regarding the disease.
  • Spread: While the disease is not contagious, it prefers to attack when the body’s defences are weak. 
  • Caused by: The disease begins with gum inflammation and is thought to be caused by bacteria found in the mouth.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

  • About: They are a diverse group of tropical infections that are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Caused by: A variety of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms (helminths).
  • World NTD Day: January 30.
  • London Declaration on NTDs: It was adopted on 30th January 2012 to recognize the global burden of NTDs.
  • Why called neglected? Because they are almost absent from the global health agenda, have very limited resources and are almost ignored by global funding agencies. NTDs are diseases of neglected populations that perpetuate a cycle of poor educational outcomes and limited professional opportunities; in addition, are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
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