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Implementation and Evaluation of a Training Program for Traditional Healers to Improve Knowledge of Noma (Cancrum Oris) in Burkina Faso


Noma (cancrum oris) is an orofacial gangrene affecting young children living in extreme poverty. The acute morbidity is high, and survivors suffer from physical and social sequelae. When diagnosed early, noma can be cured. Noma is especially prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, where traditional medicine is the norm. The aim of this work was to provide 1-day training to traditional healers in Burkina Faso and to evaluate change in knowledge of noma across time. A sample of 78 healers who attended the training were asked to complete the same questionnaire before, immediately after, and 8 months after the training. A total of 66 healers completed the entire study. Before training, more than 40% of the participants did not know any of its key messages. Most of the key messages were acquired and still present after 8 months by a large proportion of the participants. Systematic intraoral examination was practiced by 7 (9.0%) of the traditional healers before training, and 43 (65.2%) reported doing so 8 months after training. The key messages aiming to improve early diagnosis as well as rapid and adequate treatment (the recognition of facilitating factors and the need to perform a systematic oral examination and to advise hospital transfer) have been well integrated. The study suggests that organizing a self-managed training program is feasible when done within an association, as was the case here, and owing to the willingness to collaborate shown by the traditional healers who participated in our study.

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Journal Article
Baratti-Mayer D
Jeannot E
Dupuis M