Dentists’ opinion on the challenges Noma patients encounters regarding health care seeking

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Objective: A case of Noma anywhere in the world signals neglect and presses a big scar of failure of humanity. Failure of humanity to feed, care, protect, ensure health and maintain the right of offspring. Dentists can champion the prevention and total eradication of Noma since it starts as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. The objective was to assess the dentists’ opinion on the challenges Noma patients encounters regarding health care seeking

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among all categories of dentist working in dental center of University of Benin Teaching hospital, Benin City between September and October, 2022. It is part of a larger study on knowledge and awareness of Noma among dental practitioners. The data collection tool was a self-administered questionnaire. The questions analysed for this study were eleven (11) which included three demographic questions (age, gender, professional status) and 8 questions on their options in relations to challenges Noma patients face regarding health care seeking. The response on challenged were in numerical ranging from 0 to 10 with 0 labelled as no impact and 10 labelled as very high impact. Data subjected to analysis using IBM SPSS version 23.0. The result of challenges was presented as mean and standard error of mean. Data subjected to univariate and bivariate analysis using SPSS version 23.0.

Results: A total of 84 dentists of different professional status were studied. The challenge with the great impact was lack of financial resources of the family (6.65±0.34) followed by traditional healer that are convinced that hospital cannot cure Noma (6.52±0.32), the stigmatization of Noma patients (6.37±0.32) and community awareness (6.15±0.34)

Conclusion: Data from this study showed the challenges, Noma patients encounter regarding health care seeking as reported by the participants were related financial resources of the family, erroneous belief of traditional healer, the stigmatization of Noma patients and community awareness. The application of finding of this study will facilitate early presentation of Noma patient s in the reversible stage to dental healthcare setting that will likely lead to cure.

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