Posted on 9 May 2018
On 11 April 2018, Dr Ioana Cismas chaired the public event “Noma, A Neglected Disease in the Digital Age – Old Difficulties, New Tools?” organized within the framework of the Geneva Health Forum 2018. Noma is a non-contagious disease that occurs predominantly in malnourished children aged 2-7 years, living in conditions of extreme poverty. This gangrenous disease starts in the mouth and spreads rapidly destroying the muscles and the bones of the face. If diagnosed at the earliest stages, noma can be easily treated with rehydration, nutritional intervention, antibiotics and mouth rinses. Yearly, 140,000 children in Africa, Asia and Latin America are affected by noma. The disease has a mortality rate of 90%.
The conference presented the conclusions of a six month long workshop that brought together an interdisciplinary group of practitioners and scholars to tackle the difficulties of gathering data on noma by identifying existing and new tools, including digital tools. Together with representatives of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Geneva University Hospital, and the Sentinelles Foundation, as well as medical doctors from Laos and Niger and a member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, Ioana reinforced the workshop’s findings: noma is not a rare disease confined to the past or limited in scope to one sub-continent. Today, noma affects children in many countries, has a staggering high mortality rate and DALYs surpassing many other neglected diseases – yet, it remains largely neglected. The findings of the workshop (GHF2018-Noma-workshop-summary (PDF , 52kb)), the participants hope will allow the development of human rights and global health approaches for a better prevention and treatment of noma.