A disease that even the people who suffer from it know little about. 90% of the children who develop this disease will die. It’s a disease that, every year, kills over 100,000 children in the poorest parts of the world but yet it is virtually unheard of to the world. But what is this disease?

This disease is called Noma. Noma is a disease that is mostly caused by malnutrition and poverty. The child gets an infection of their own bacteria and then gets a gangrene of the skin. It most commonly starts off with a gum infection which is easily treated with a few antibiotics. But this is very difficult to access as medical treatment is often extremely difficult to access when living in poverty. This then develops in to Noma the children who get this would most probably die. Shockingly it can kill in 24 hours. And if the child survives this then you will find severe deformities of their faces or half their faces are quite literally eaten off by the infection. Noma can causes mutations in the structure of the face.

Luckily in this country Noma died out about a centaury ago. The children who suffer from this disease are finding that the disease dramatically affects their day to day lives. From things like not having friends because of how they look, to basic day to day things that we take for granted like being able to eat or speak. They are hidden away by their families or kicked out of their homes, as some people believe the illness is a curse.

One country that has a large number of Noma sufferers is Ethiopia. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and 77.5% percent of its population live on less than $2 a day. Many of the children who survive would need intensive plastic surgery to even try to rebuild their faces. However in Ethiopia there are only 8 plastic surgeons in the whole country.

However there is hope. A charity called Facing Africa has been doing life changing work to try and help these victims in Africa. So perhaps this silent killer will be stopped and its victims will not suffer on silence. The next time you worry that you have a blemish or think you look ugly, remember that you have a beautiful face that many children would die to have.