Sunday, June 14, 2009

Protect children from needless suffering: Winds of Hope

Winds of Hope is a Swiss organization founded by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, who had completed the first successful round-the-world nonstop balloon journey. They chose as their cause the prevention and treatment of something I'd never heard about until today: noma.

Noma is a true horror of a disease. It's no longer seen in the developed world, but plagues the poverty stricken villages of west Africa. Caused by poor nutrition and inadequate hygiene, noma attacks the soft tissues of the face. It is most commonly seen in small children between the ages of 2 and 6.

If identified quickly, noma can be treated with a simple disinfecting mouthwash, preventing disfigurement and death. If caught in a more progressive stage, it can still be treated with the sort of antibiotics we in the developed world take for granted. If allowed to progress, it is fatal in up to 80% of cases, and leaves the survivors with devastating facial disfigurement.

The goal of Winds of Hope is to train local health care workers so that they in turn can educate parents. In this way, noma can be prevented by improved oral hygiene, or identified and treated before it causes damage to the child's face.

1 comment:

army_wife said...

Wow, I had no idea this was going on. How terrible!