Noma is a scary disease, but what’s more surprizing is how common it is and yet relatively unheard of. Each year there are an estimated 140,000 cases of Noma. 80-90% die, and 70% of those with Noma are children between the ages of 1 and 7.
Noma is a rapidly progressive eating away of the flesh and bone by bacteria, caused primarily by malnutrition. The degeneration of tissue is apparently painless. The spread can be stopped by antibiotics and improved nutrition, but tissue and bone cannot be regenerated. It usually begins in the mouth as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, as shown below:
The faces of this disease can be truly nightmarish:
There are a few charities and hospitals that work to treat the disease through antibiotics and facial reconstruction, but if you ask me that’s avoiding the real issue here. Malnutrition, the actual cause, will only end when there is a rebalance of wealth in the world.