Another Child Feared to Have Dreaded Noma

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Two-and-a-half year-old twin boy Weyulu Petrus is urgently awaiting medical diagnosis next week in what is feared to be a bacterial infection of the gangrenous Noma disease. Should this be the case, Weyulu could possibly become the third Namibian child to be diagnosed with Noma since independence. The first two were baby girl Namutenya and five-year-old Feliciana Eusebio. Bringing this story to the attention of New Era recently the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Executive Director Phil ya Nangolo said that the rights group intends to assist the mother of the child Elizabeth Shapwako, 31, to have the boy examined. However, for this young mother, times have been extremely hard as she has to worry about the deteriorating health condition of her child that seems likely to be the flesh-eating Noma that is normally found among the poorest of the poor. Noma, also known as “The Face of Poverty” is an infectious disease caused by the deposition of larval flies in oral wounds and lesions in the mouth and the facial regions of malnourished subjects, particularly children, which later become gangrenous. When 31-year-old mother Elizabeth Shapwako discovered that her son Weyulu was having the symptoms of Noma she took the child to the Eenhana Health Centre, but at the time she was told that the child was too small to be treated. “I am so worried and that’s why I came down with my kids to Windhoek and took him to the Katutura Hospital. But then again I was told that the doctors who treat this disease have left the country,” said the concerned mother as she looked at her son. Unemployed and single, Shapwako now stays with her children in a shack belonging to her deceased uncle in the Kabila Section of the Havana township of Katutura. Standing at the entrance of the shack, one can visibly see the ugly face of poverty, as she cannot do much to support her two children being without enough food or proper clothing. “It’s difficult to even feed him most of the time because the food goes into the nostrils.” It was quite visible that due to a lack of eating enough baby Weyulu has lost much weight as compared to his sibling twin sister Anyangha-Naiwala. Another worry for this young mother is that without proper medical assistance her son’s health condition could become even worse and she does not have enough money to pay for any medical costs. When New Era checked the boy’s medical certificate there was no indication of Noma written on it. However, in this regard the NSHR has jumped in to assist her in having the boy medically examined, after which proper assistance could be provided to the child. In the meantime, the NSHR is requesting anyone who would like to assist baby Weyulu with medical costs to deposit such funding into the NSHR Noma Treatment Trust Fund at Standard Bank Namibia; Gustav Voigts Windhoek; Branch Code 2772; Account Number 04 273 3332.