• 'I treat it but I don't know what this disease is': a qualitative study on noma (cancrum oris) and traditional healing in northwest Nigeria.

      Farley, E; Bala, HM; Lenglet, A; Mehta, U; Abubakar, N; Samuel, J; de Jong, A; Bil, K; Oluyide, B; Fotso, A; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2019-08-24)
      BACKGROUND: Noma, a neglected disease mostly affecting children, with a 90% mortality rate if untreated, is an orofacial gangrene that disintegrates the tissues of the face in <1 wk. Noma can become inactive with early stage antibiotic treatment. Traditional healers, known as mai maganin gargajiya in Hausa, play an important role in the health system and provide care to noma patients. METHODS: We conducted 12 in-depth interviews with caretakers who were looking after noma patients admitted at the Noma Children's Hospital and 15 traditional healers in their home villages in Sokoto state, northwest Nigeria. We explored perceptions of noma, relationship dynamics, healthcare practices and intervention opportunities. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed and translated. Manual coding and thematic analysis were utilised. RESULTS: Traditional healers offered specialised forms of care for specific conditions and referral guidance. They viewed the stages of noma as different conditions with individualised remedies and were willing to refer noma patients. Caretakers trusted traditional healers. CONCLUSIONS: Traditional healers could play a crucial role in the early detection of noma and the health-seeking decision-making process of patients. Intervention programmes should include traditional healers through training and referral partnerships. This collaboration could save lives and reduce the severity of noma complications.