The ravages of noma
The head devoured, covered in blood, shattered, beside itself with pain, jaws welded together, the eyes often succumbing to the disease, in the bush or in villages, unsought for - therefore unfound - with few resources, as they possess nothing, and with no rights as their parents, poor, are unaware that the poor have rights. This is but a rough description of the children suffering from Noma.
What we do know is that discovered in time, in very young children, Noma can be cured in the first week of the disease. However, widespread ignorance and government indifference as to diffusion of information to their socio-medical infrastructure (from main hospitals to dispensaries and down to the humblest health officer) as well as to the local population, makes for a devastating disease. Without however killing its victims, it leaves the children with faces shattered with pain. It is for us to be ashamed. We who do nothing, or so very little.
On the spot, in the children’s country of origin, almost nothing that is worthy of them can be envisaged at present. Therefore, it is here that we must do something.
However it is extremely expensive. With the usual " choice": death, horror, or a partially restored childhood desired by these playful children, who do not wish to die, but to live.
As in the napalm days, well meaning people say :
- They would be better off dead.
They are alive, laughing with what is left, and playing.