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When they landed after their round-the-world balloon flight, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones promised each other to dedicate their achievement to the children of the world and to use their fame to combat forgotten or disregarded suffering. The cause of noma very quickly became an obvious choice for them, because of its symbolic power : a sign of abject poverty. In addition to the concrete actions taken in the field, Bertrand uses his speaking engagements and political encounters to mobilize action internationally. It was his initiative to create the International NoNoma Federation, which brings together most of the associations active in this fight, so as to encourage synergies.

Noma, from the Greek «nomein» meaning devour, is a rapidly advancing gangrene that develops in the mouth, destroying both soft and bony tissues in the face. Noma flourishes where poor hygiene and malnutrition weaken immune defenses – that is in conditions of extreme poverty. The victims are almost all children aged from 2 through 6. In the absence of any treatment, noma is fatal in 80% of the cases and leaves the survivors in an intolerable state of disfigurement. If malnutrition lies at the root of noma, the reason why it develops is ignorance in the communities concerned when it first appears. All

© Archives Piccard

On 9-9-99 - Bertrand, Brian and the owner of Breitling came to create the Winds of Hope Foundation, which is active today in six African countries. it is recognized as a public interest organization and is under the high supervision of the Swiss Confederation. Its launch capital came from the Budweiser Prize won by the first team to fly round the world in a balloon, and from a Breitling donation. Its current funding comes from tax-exempt donations from individuals and companies

that is needed to prevent the gangrene from spreading is for the child to be treated with a few antibiotics at an early stage, when the first symptoms appear. Once that stage is over, all that can be done is reparative surgery to make these children look a bit more human... and that is both costly and painful.


Every year, and amidst general indifference, thousands of tiny children living in the poorest regions of the world pay an unacceptable price for malnutrition, poor hygiene and ignorance. Beginning as a gingivitis that turns into necrotizing ulcerative tissue or an undetected edema in the cheek, the infection advances rapidly in just a few days, natural defenses being weakened by malnutrition, before becoming irreversible. Every year, several thousand children in the poorest regions aged between two and six will never again be able to feed themselves or breathe normally. Very often, they will be rejected by their communities, who think they are cursed. And yet, a few cents worth of antibiotics administered in time would have stopped the progress of this disease and prevented its terrible consequences.


A mutilated face, disfigured by a ravaging disease, interpreted as a curse. Surrounding them – only fear, curiosity, and rejection

Yvan Muriset, Sentinelles


PREVENTION The financing of national prevention and early detection programs in the countries affected is the spearhead of Winds of Hope’s action. These are simple programs with a high multiplier effect that promote distribution of preventative information, early detection and first aid. The goal is to train health workers, nurses, midwives and traditional healers to recognize and treat the very first signs of noma, so as to stop the disease from progressing. After facilitating the launch of the national anti-noma program in Niger in 2000, the Foundation decided in 2002 to fund identical programs in Burkina Faso, Mali and Benin, and then, since 2006, in Togo and Senegal. The partnership is for the long term, and is implemented with the health ministries of these countries and with the African headquarters of the WHO (World Health Organisation). In 12 years, 16’000 health workers have been trained in these areas in close collaboration with the authorities

RAISE AWARENESS in public opinion internationally. By informing the authorities and the media of the existence of these intolerable situations, Winds of Hope wants to make it more likely that those who wield political power will

take urgent action and to appeal to the public and to companies to help finance humanitarian action. A big success was obtained in March 2012 thanks to Jean Ziegler, former rapporteur at the UN on the Right to Food, and Prosper Vokouma, Ambassador from Burkina Faso, when the UN Human Rights Commission recognized noma as a breach of the right to food. Following this, the WHO and the countries affected are officially obliged to take action against it.

POOLING EFFORTS In 2003, at Bertrand’s suggestion, Winds of Hope created the International NoNoma Federation, which brings together most of the associations active in the fight against noma, dealing with everything from prevention to reintegration of victims, passing via surgical treatment. This search for synergies by organizing scientific round-tables and cooperative projects in the field has proved essential to muster the forces needed to eradicate this scourge.

© Yvain Genevay

«When we first hear its name, we do not know what it is. When we hear what it consists of, we cannot believe it. But once we see the devastation wrought by the disease with our own eyes, we will never be the same again. Noma is a disease that not only leaves indelible scars on the faces of its very young victims but also on the souls of those who witness it: the shame of not knowing about it sooner, the horror that such a thing could still exist in the 21st Century, incomprehension that so few humanitarian organizations do anything about it. Because it is a non-communicable disease, noma is not high on anyone’s priorities. And yet the way it is directly linked with malnutrition and poor hygiene makes it into a symbol - of destitution. It must be eradicated ! »

Bertrand Piccard

Every day noma kills and disfigures children, even though we know how to prevent and treat it. Help us to:

• Make noma better known
• Raise money to fund
action in the field les actions sur le terrain
• Organize prevention and early
• Put in place a process leading
to the eradication of this affliction

So that donors can be sure that 100% of their contributions go to campaigns in affected areas, the entire administrative costs of running the Foundation are paid for by the partners who have pledged to support Winds of Hope:

• Breitling
• Victorinox


Fondation Winds of Hope,
Chemin Messidor 5 
1006 Lausanne - Suisse
+ 41 21 320 77 22




- medias -


das gesicht der armut
la croisade de

bertrand et brian

sur les traces de piccard
avec piccard

dans l’enfer du noma