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Noma, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs)

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  • Context (DTE): WHO added Noma to its official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTD).
  • The name ‘Noma’ is derived from the Greek word “nomē”, meaning “to devour”, as noma eats away facial tissue and bones if not treated early.
  • 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 associated with extreme poverty, malnutrition and poor access to sanitation and oral hygiene.
  • While the disease is not contagious, it prefers to attack when the body’s defenses are weak.
  • It starts in the mouth as bacteria-induced necrotizing gingivitis. It progresses to necrotizing periodontitis and then to necrotising stomatitis.
  • Affected Population: It mainly affects children aged 2-6 years old. It can also occur among immunocompromised adults due to HIV, leukemia and other diseases.
  • Prevalent in Africa, Asia and Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe.
  • Treatment includes prescription of widely available antibiotics, advice and support on practices to improve oral hygiene, disinfectant mouthwash, and nutrition supplements.

Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs)

  • As per WHO, NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions and affect more than one billion people worldwide.
  • Why are they called ‘Neglected’? These remain underreported because the victims are the poorest and the most marginalized, with no access to treatment and reporting.
    • Further, these diseases are often overlooked by drug developers, government officials, public health programs and the news media.
  • Affected population: Populations living in poverty, with poor sanitation & unsafe drinking water, substandard housing, close contact with infectious vectors, and little or no access to health care.
  • NTDs kill approx. >5 lakh people annually.
  • India is home to the world’s largest absolute burden of at least 11 major neglected tropical diseases.

GoI Initiatives to curb NTDs

  • National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) for control of Dengue and elimination of Kala-azar and Lymphatic Filariasis.
  • National Leprosy Eradication Programme
  • National Programme for Control of Blindness wherein services are provided for control of Trachoma.
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