A gangrenous affliction of the face called noma is surging among impoverished, malnourished children in West Africa, and now appears to infecting HIV-positive adults as well.
Aid workers told the U.N. news agency that the disease is not transmitted, and could be prevented with improved nutrition and improved living conditions. Niger and Burkina Faso, the centers of the African surge, have the world’s highest rates of underweight and undernourished children.
The disease, which is not yet taught in medical schools, rots facial tissue, causing the skin to scab off all the way to the jaw. Health workers are only now beginning to recognize the symptoms; survivors are disfigured for the rest of their lives.
“Children made faceless by a disease of neglect”
IRIN (UN), July 27, 2007 * CAUTION — DISTURBING IMAGES *