Michael Odur, a resident of Labworomor village in Akwang, says that caring for the children affected by the nodding condition since the closure of the treatment centers has become an uphill task for him and the entire family due to resource constraints.
The families of nodding syndrome victims
in Acholi are pleading with the government to expeditiously reopen the treatment
centers in the region.
This follows the deteriorating health condition
and death of some of the affected children in Odek Sub-County in Omoro District
and Tumangur in Akwang Sub-County, Kitgum District following the shutdown of
two clinics. Hope for Humans, an NGO opened the two treatment center to provide
specialized treatments to the victims of the nodding syndrome in 2018.
Since then, a total of 18 nodding patients; 11 in Akwang and 7 in Odek sub-counties respectively have died due to malnutrition-related complications
and drowning between 2020 and April this year, according to records obtained by
Uganda Radio Network.
Michael Odur, a resident of Labworomor village in Akwang, says that caring for the
children affected by the nodding condition since the closure of the treatment
centers has become an uphill task for him and the entire family due to resource
constraints. Odur, a peasant farmer had two sons who were both affected by the
syndrome in 2003.
He revealed that one of his sons, Mark Okect passed on in
2020 aged 23, three years after being moved home following the closure of Odek
treatment center. He says his surviving 23-year-old son, Vincent Ocan is severely deformed,
unable to talk, walk, and suffers numerous health complications due to poor
feeding and medical care.
//cue in: “koko ma wan…
Cueout:…aloka loka maber.”//
Castro Odur, another resident of the same village whose five children
were diagnosed with the bizarre disease reveals that the health status of his
children has been so alarming. He consequently lost three of his daughters in
2019 after they were returned from Omoro District.
He is bitter that the treatment center in Tumangur, approximately 20kms away
from his village was constructed and commissioned in 2017by President Yoweri
Museveni to take care of such patients but it closed down. Odur is now worried
that his two remaining sons will also eventually nod to their graves too.
//Cue in: “When they opened…
Cue out…was taken up.”//
Richard Lukica, a concerned parent in Ajan village, Lamola Parish in Odek
explains that several parents cannot engage in productive work as they have to look
after their affected children to shield them from seizures that result into
burns from fire and drowning.
//cue in: “Peko wat ye…
Cue out…ikin gang kany.”//
The Omoro acting District Health Officer, Robert Ongom, says no new infections
have been reported since 2015. He, however, says that the syndrome is still a
burden to 120 households largely in Odek Sub-County. He said the district
continues to treat the children with anti-seizure tablets through outreach
programs and refer them to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital for further
management in severe cases.
//cue in: “Our role as…
Cue out…managed at home.”//
The Omoro District LC 5 Chairperson, Douglas Peter Okello Okao says Hope for
Humans closed down due to financial constraints and handed over the center to
the local government. He also said in the 2017/2018 financial year, the government
allocated Shillings 700 million to run the center but the funding was
//Cue in: “The situation for…
Cue out…than to close.”//
The State Minister for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny says reopening
of the nodding treatment centers can be facilitated when the district local
governments include the plan in their budget. Children with the syndrome
require relentless monitoring, because a seizure could attack any moment yet
the condition inhibits their ability to make quick decisions.
The exact cause remains unknown but some researchers attribute it to parasitic
nematode, Onchocerca volvulus to be responsible for both river blindness and
nodding syndrome while another theory is that the syndrome is caused by the