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MSF Work Tackling Noma in Sokoto, Nigeria

17 Jan 24 | 22 Feb 24

MSF Work Tackling Noma in Sokoto, Nigeria

19 December 2023

John Canty, is an MSF Project Coordinator in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria.


I am currently Project Coordinator in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria. MSF partners with the Ministry of Health in the treatment of Noma disease in a specialist hospital.


While the cause of noma is yet unknown, we know the risk factors include malnutrition, poor oral hygiene, among others.


So to complement our noma prevention activities, MSF also partners with the Ministry of Health in an effort to treat severe acute malnutrition in the northwest of Nigeria.


Noma is often referred to as the face of poverty, given the facial disfiguration as a result of noma disease and the social class that it most affects.


MSF partners with the MoH to provide specialist surgery at the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto, one of the only specialist noma hospitals in the world.


MSF has also provided lifesaving treatment to over 2000 patients at the specialist inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Sokoto where we have seen more 100% increase in the patients from 2022 to 2023.


Malnutrition mostly affects children under the age of 5. The work MSF does in the northwest of Nigeria has become a key pillar to support efforts of the Ministry of Health in tackling both noma disease and malnutrition. While MSF has made a significant impact in the lives of those affected by noma and malnutrition, more needs to be done at an institutional level to address the chronic malnutrition situation.


The effects of climate change is also apparent in the northwest with smaller crop yields, worsening the already precarious food security status.


The competition over scarce resources has led to conflicts between communities.


I want to thank our MSF supporters for continuing to be with us despite all that is going on in the world. I know you can be inundated with the images of conflict shared daily on our screens and in our news feed.


MSF continues to be there to support the most vulnerable populations, and despite conflict, despite seemingly endless needs, despite disease burdens, and despite attacks against our staff and those who we support, we will continue to do what we can and be where it matters. We will continue to speak out.


Happy Christmas to you and your family. In Sokoto, we plan to have a modest Christmas period where we will balance work with celebration.