Noma, the faceless disease

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The goal of the project is to raise awareness of the Noma disease by shedding light on survivors who have become adults and to show the medical as well as the societal consequences of the disease they have to overcome.

  • €13,814 Budget in Euros
  • 2020 Final release date
  • 2 Round winner
  • 2 Locations

Noma. A name that is hardly present in the media. Normal, because noma frightens. And facing the disfigured children, looking away is more of a reflex than anything else. This disease, known since antiquity, strikes more than 100,000 children per year, mainly in the countries of the Sahel, where it is still deadly in 80% of cases. Noma is first and foremost a disease of poverty, largely linked to malnutrition. A small stain that goes unnoticed on the gum tissue, and then a wound that spreads and "eats" the face. Too often, families who are unfamiliar with this disease do not consult a doctor or even hide their child, out of shame. This attitude contributes to the high mortality of the disease, which can lead to death in a few days only.

Little is known also in the countries of the North. Noma receives little funding for research projects. The care for children disfigured by the disease is mainly based on missions organized by the few NGOs and associations dedicated to this disease. The surgeries required are cumbersome and cannot be paid for by families. Sometimes even technical platforms are not available in local hospitals.

To improve this care, cooperation programs have been set up, in particular with France and Switzerland. While some patients still come to Europe for surgery (operations are carried out every week at Geneva University Hospitals), the Caen University Hospital has set up a tele-consultation platform that allows to prepare interventions before going into the field and ensure a better postoperative follow-up of patients. African surgeons, such as Dr A. Trahoré from Bamako, have also been trained in Europe in order to ensure better care for patients in their country of origin. They also contribute with local associations to prevention and early detection actions that can reduce the incidence and mortality of the disease. To eradicate Noma, it is necessary to look this disease in the face and come out of fear or disgust it causes today.

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