Lamwo Residents Using Donkey Brains to Treat Epilepsy

3159 Views Lamwo, Uganda

In short
Several children in the northern Uganda districts of Kitgum, Lamwo and Pader were diagnosed with Epilepsy at the peak of the nodding syndrome region about two years ago. The disease is symptomized by recurrent seizures caused by brain damage arising out of injury, infection such as encephalitis or meningitis, hormonal problems and tumors.

A section of residents in Madi Opei Sub County in Lamwo district are using extracts from Donkey brains  in managing and treating children with epilepsy.

The brain matter is extracted from the animals, some of which are found dead, injured or intentionally slaughtered. Being an exotic animal, eating donkey meat remains a taboo among this community because of its associated strong smell and toughness.

Several children in the northern Uganda districts of Kitgum, Lamwo and Pader were diagnosed with Epilepsy at the peak of the nodding syndrome region about two years ago. The disease is symptomized by recurrent seizures caused by brain damage arising out of injury, infection such as encephalitis or meningitis, hormonal problems and tumors.

Statistics by the Epilepsy support association Uganda indicates that at least 1 million Ugandans are suffering with the ailment.

Charles Obong Okwera, the Madi Opei sub county chairperson says residents are now desperate for solutions to one of the biggest challenges in the community. Initially they used to burn tree roots which are smoked around the epileptic person with a belief that it will drive away the bad spirits causing the disease.
 
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Francis Olony Ibitii, a resident of Madi Opei trading center explains that the extract from the donkey brain is carefully grilled over the flame and later administered to children experiencing repeated epileptic seizures. Few days later, he says, the number of seizures dramatically reduces according to those using the concoction.

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However, Uganda Radio Network could not find any person who has healed as a result of using the concoction. 

But, a veterinary officer who operates an animal drug shop in Kitgum town said on condition of anonymity that the residents face the bigger risk of infecting the children with a more deadly animal disease from donkeys dying from injuries. He advised that parents of should continue seeking medical treatment for the ailment.

Dr. Joseph Sirven of the Epilepsy Foundation in the United States of America says there are currently more than 26 approved medications used in treating Epilepsy including diet and surgeries.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Epilepsy is a chronic disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which may vary from a brief lapse of attention or muscle jerks, to severe and prolonged convulsions that affect people of all ages.

The seizures are caused by sudden, usually brief, excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells known as neurons. In most cases, epilepsy can be successfully treated with anti-epileptic drugs. Unfortunately, majority of people in developing countries – home to 80 percent of affected do not get the treatment they need.

It says people with epilepsy and their families can suffer from stigma and discrimination in many parts of the world.
 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.