The Federal Government, in partnership with the Noma Aid Nigeria Initiative (NANI), has said it is set to open a new treatment centre for the life-threatening disease, Noma, in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on November 22, 2023.
Noma Centre Abuja, as the centre will be known, is being opened on Noma Day, which is commemorated each year on November 22, to raise awareness of the disease and its prevention.
The Nigerian government has committed to eliminating the disease from the country by 2030. Noma Aid Nigeria Initiative (NANI), a Nigerian non-governmental organisation with support from German Hilfsaktion Noma eV; is working with the Ministry of Health to construct the 80-bed treatment centre within the grounds of the National Hospital in Abuja. Funding for the centre comes from small donations from people in Germany and Austria.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator, NANI, Dr. Charles Ononiwu, the grand opening of the Noma Centre Abuja is said to mark a significant step in NANI’s commitment to supporting the government to eliminate noma disease in Nigeria.
“The devastating disease that primarily affects the mouth and face affects children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, living in poor households.
“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is fatal in about 90 per cent of cases, if not detected early and the progression can be limited through access to a nutritious diet and basic sanitation and hygiene.
“Our ‘whole-of-society’ approach to improving population health means quality care for every condition affecting Nigerians. Noma disease remains a burden in low and middle-income countries, especially those along the ‘Noma belt’, including Nigeria.
“The Renewed Hope agenda is also about restoring the dignity of people. Not only are you treating, but you are restoring the dignity of the patient.
“Noma Aid Nigeria Initiative has been at the forefront of efforts to combat this neglected tropical disease, and establishing this treatment centre is a testament to the dedication to improving the lives of those affected.
“Located centrally for ease of access in Abuja, the purpose-built treatment centre is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to perform reconstructive surgeries and provide a comprehensive and specialised environment for the rehabilitation of noma patients.
“The services will be provided to patients free of charge. The needs of the children were central in the construction of the centre, with open spaces to enable the children to rest and recover and playgrounds so that they feel at home. They will be able to stay at the centre for the duration of their treatment, which can take months.
“The dignity of every child matters to us, so we expect to create an environment where the children will not only be treated through highly skilled reconstructive surgeries but also where they can have a loving and caring environment in which every member of staff will be involved in their recovery and rehabilitation journey.
“Noma Centre Abuja will be staffed by a team of highly trained surgeons and healthcare professionals who are committed to delivering the highest standard of care.
“The centre will also offer various services to support patients in their recovery journey, including physiotherapy and counselling. NANI will conduct community outreach programmes to raise awareness about noma disease, promote early detection, and provide education on preventive measures.”