Museveni to Visit Nodding Syndrome Victims In Kitgum

3287 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
President Museveni will be in Kitgum to grace a thanksgiving prayer organised by Kitgum Municipality Member of Parliament Beatrice Anywar for surviving an accident that nearly claimed her life early this year. The president is also expected to meet 835 surviving victims of the Nodding Syndrome drawn from Labongo Amida and Labongo Akwang sub counties.

Residents of Tumangu village, Akwang Sub County in Kitgum district are excited about a planned visit today by President Yoweri Museveni.
 
They say the visit provides President Museveni with first-hand opportunity to assess the economic and health situation of children suffering from nodding syndrome.
 
Joe Otto, the Tumangu Village Health Team officer, says President Museveni will meet 835 surviving victims of the Nodding Syndrome drawn from Labongo Amida and Labongo Akwang sub counties.
 
Otto says the mysterious disease has claimed 54 children in Labongo Amida Sub County and another 49 in Labongo Akwang Sub County since it broke out in 2009. "We shall tell the president that these children need economic support to recover just like their caretakers and Village Health Teams," he added.
 
President Museveni will be in Kitgum to grace a thanksgiving prayer organised by Kitgum Municipality Member of Parliament Beatrice Anywar for surviving an accident that nearly claimed her life early this year.
 
Today's visit provides the president a unique opportunity to interact with sufferers of the mysterious disease from their ecological environment after he first interacted with a few from Mulago Hospital where they were taken in 2012 by Beatrice Anywar.
 
The visit culminated into government flying few of the children to the US Center for Disease Control in Atlanta for proper analysis.
 
Dr. Geoffrey Akena, the Medical Superintendent of Kitgum Hospital, who doubles as coordinator district Nodding Syndrome Taskforce, says many of the children suffer from epilepsy.  He says the district health department is managing 452 and 395 cases of nodding and epilepsy in Labongo Akwang and Labongo Amida Sub Counties respectively with no new cases since 2013.
 
Dr. Akena says the children remains vulnerable and need lots of special needs support from the central government despite many registering marked improvement. "Only a few have marked complications that we are monitoring," he said.
 
He says the medical records at the hospital indicate that those suffering from Nodding Syndrome alone are 263 in the whole of Kitgum district.  He adds: "And we are managing them with syndromic medicine which we have in plenty at the moment."
 
A laboratory was set up at Kitgum Hospital in August last year to conduct further research on the mysterious unexplained neurological disease.
 
"The laboratory will analyse clinic aspects of the syndrome and blood samples over the next five years. We are currently recruiting specialists to work in the facility but various researches are going on and are promising," Dr Akena added.
 
The laboratory currently collects samples for analysis in Mulago, Nairobi and the United States among others.
 
A preliminary research in 2015 found crystals - technically known as coalesce substances - arising from micro deficiency of growth minerals iron, Zinc, Copper, Potassium, Calcium and Lead. The study conducted by the US Center for Disease Control also associated 99.9 percent of the causes of nodding syndrome to the virus that cause onchocerciasis or river blindness. 
 
While campaigning in Aruu North County in Pader District in April, President Museveni said the nodding syndrome had been contained by aerial spray of River Aswa.

 

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.