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Lives at Risk as Nodding Disease Centre Remains Closed

The multi-million treatment Centre was built in 2012 by defunct Hope for Humans, a non-government organization which was then operating in parts of northern Uganda. However it was closed down in 2017 due to funding constraints.
Hope for Humans sign post in Akoyo village where the defunct Nodding Disease Syndrome Centre is located - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Five children have lost their lives to nodding syndrome in Omoro District over the past three months, as the sole diagnostic centre for the region remains closed.

The multi-million treatment Centre was built in 2012 by defunct Hope for Humans, a non-government organization which was then operating in parts of northern Uganda. However it was closed down in 2017 due to funding constraints.

The centre, which was located at Tumangur village, Labongo-Akwang Sub-county in Kitgum District offered wide-ranging medical care to sufferers of Nodding Syndrome. Its services included therapeutic attention and rehabilitation, nourishing meals, special needs education, and personal hygiene. The centre supported more than 300 children during the time of its operations.

Local authorities and affected families told URN that the centre’s closure has been detrimental to dozens of children who perished by drowning in water while others died out of starvation due to poor feeding by their parents.

Filder Anyeko, a resident of Ajan village in Lamola parish of Odek Sub-County who lost one of her two girls to nodding syndrome disclosed that it has been an uphill task to monitor, treat and feed the children.

Acholi//Cue in; “An, lutino ma…

Cue out…lokom lutin ni.”//

Grace Atim, another mother from the same village regrets the closure of the centre recalling hiw she lost her daughter after she wandered from home and drowned in water while attempting to cross a stream.

//Cue in; “Acito anongo dong…

Cue out…peko wa ni tek.”//

Odek Sub-County Chairperson Richard Okello Labongo says they have registered five deaths since December 2019 which can all be attributed to the closure of the centre and biting poverty faced by affected households.

//Cue in; “The local community…

Cue out…we are losing them.”//

Nodding syndrome was first reported in Kitgum in 2009 and later it spread to Gulu, Pader and Lamwo districts affecting over 3,000 children. In Omoro, the disease was first detected and in March, 2012, from Aromo Wang Lobo village in Lamola Parish, Odek Sub County.

A 2018 statistics from the district health department indicated that 18 children succumbed to the disease which had affected 254 children at the time.

The Word Health Organization – WHO reveals that Nodding Syndrome is a neurological condition with unknown cause and classically affects children aged between 3-18 years old. The condition causes mental dysfunction, neurological deterioration, undersized growth and dozing of the head.