Surgeons from Spire Bristol Hospital tackle Face Eating Disease in Africa

20 March 2013

The consultants, Paul Wilson and Anthony MacQuillan, who work together at Spire Bristol Hospital, have recently returned from a two-week long mission to Addis Ababa in the country where the problem is particularly bad.

Consultant plastic surgeon, Paul Wilson, said: “Around 140,000 people are affected by Noma each year and 90% of those will die because of it. The disease causes horrific disfiguration and people’s lives are very seriously affected.  Anthony and I wanted to use our expertise to improve the outlook for people with Noma. We performed reconstructive surgery on as many people as possible in our time there to make the greatest impact we can.”

Caused by malnutrition, Noma is very much a third-world problem and is easily preventable with access to clean water and good nutrition.

The surgeons treated 30 patients during their stay and worked with a local team of doctors at the MCM Korean Hospital in Addis Ababa. Their trip was supported by Wiltshire-based charity, FacingAfrica which campaigns to raise awareness about the disease and how it can be prevented.

Chris Lawrence from FacingAfrica said: “In an ideal world Noma would not exist. It’s a preventable disease which can be avoided with good nutrition and proper education, but tackling this is a huge task. In 2013 we hope to help even more Africans reclaim their lives and Paul and Anthony are helping us get one step closer to that goal.” Anthony added: “Paul and I both have many years of experience in plastic surgery so it was gratifying to be able to share this expertise with local surgeons in Ethiopia who are working with Noma cases every day. I hope we have made a tangible difference not only to the people we treated, but to those who will visit the hospital in the future.”  

Anthony and Paul were joined by two other plastic surgeons from France and Germany as well as anaesthetists, nurses and charity workers.

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