Members of the Committee on Health on a tour of select districts in Northern Uganda are perturbed by the impact of Nodding Disease on children.
In a meeting with the Gulu District Local Government leaders on Thursday, 11 May 2023, the committee led by its deputy chairperson, Hon. Joel Ssebikaali, was informed that there are 135 registered cases in the different sub counties across the district.
Nodding syndrome is a type of epilepsy characterized by repeated head-nodding seizures that appear in previously healthy children aged between three and 18 years.
The MPs were also shocked by the increasing level of hunger in in the region despite interventions like provision of oxen to plough people’s land.
“We have moved to many districts like Gulu, Omoro and Pader where we have discovered a number of families being hit by hunger,” said Ssebikaali, advising the district leadership to initiate different avenues to sensitise their people about food security.
Santa Labong, a mother of two infected children, Patricia Auma, aged 18 and Ireen Odong, aged 24, said she relied on subsistence farming to provide for her family.
However, she is now constrained to tend her garden as she has to remain home to care for the sick children.
The Gulu District Health Officer (DHO), Dr Kenneth Canna, told the MPs the lack of a specialised clinic to treat Nodding Disease patients had left them with no option but to use the Out Patients Department.
According Dominic Okidi, who represented the DHO for Pader, some of the patients had died as result of drowning at the wells where they are sent to fetch water or fallen into fire places in the kitchens – all because of their condition that makes them unstable and vulnerable to falling.
Okidi requested that two treatment centers and a rehabilitation facility are constructed to treat and manage the patients.