Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-22

Pattern of noma (cancrum oris) and its risk factors in Northwestern Nigeria: A hospital-based retrospective study

1 Department of Surgery, Noma Children Hospital, Sokoto, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Health, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Semiu Adetunji Adeniyi
Noma Children Hospital, Sokoto
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aam.aam_5_18

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Background: Noma (cancrum oris) remains the scourge of children and the “face of poverty” in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recent data on the burden of noma and its risk factors are needed for evaluating and redesigning interventions for its prevention and control. Objectives: This study aimed to determine the pattern of noma and its risk factors in Northwestern Nigeria. Materials and Methods: It was a retrospective study that looked into cases of noma (cancrum oris) admitted into the Noma Children Hospital, Sokoto, Nigeria, between January 1999 and December 2011. Information on patients' bio-data, the site and severity of lesions, and presence of trismus and its severity were extracted from the patients' case files and analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: One hundred and fifty-nine (8.3%) of the 1923 patients admitted to the hospital from January 1999 to December 2011 were diagnosed with fresh noma. The mean age of the patients was 3.0 ± 1.4 years, and majority of them, 139 (87.4%) were aged 1–5 years. The soft-tissue lesions essentially involved multiple sites but most commonly the outer and inner cheeks (84.3%). The most common risk factors identified were measles (47.2%) and protein-energy malnutrition (42.1%). There were rises and falls in the prevalence of noma in the period studied. Conclusion: This study showed a high burden of noma in Northwestern Nigeria, mostly among children aged 1–5 years, and with soft-tissue lesions involving multiple sites. Measles and malnutrition were the major risk factors identified, and the disease trend showed a wave-like pattern. There is an urgent need to eliminate the disease in Nigeria through prevention and control of infectious diseases and malnutrition.

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