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Primary School Struggles to Manage Learners with Nodding Syndrome

The school, located in an area densely populated by children suffering from nodding syndrome, has an enrolment of 449 learners. Of these 30 are suffering from nodding syndrome and 10 of them reported back to school this morning as gates reopened after almost two years of inactivity.
Some of the children suffering from nodding syndrome disease in Pader district.

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Alune Primary School in Labongo Akwang Sub County, Kitgum district is struggling with dozens of learners suffering from nodding syndrome, a neurologic disorder characterized by seizure-like activity, such as convulsions and staring spells.  

The school, located in an area densely populated by children suffering from nodding syndrome, has an enrolment of 449 learners. Of these 30 are suffering from nodding syndrome and 10 of them reported back to school this morning as gates reopened after almost two years of inactivity.

However, John Okura, the School Deputy headteacher told URN on Monday that they do not have skills and knowledge on handling or providing first aid to the learners especially when they suffer attacks and collapse while in classes or within the school premises.  

He explained that some of the children regularly collapse in class during lessons, and often become aggressive, especially during the afternoon hours when they become hungry. 

//Cue in; ‘’I am requesting some…  

Cue out…they are hungry.’’//   

Patrick Omal, the school headteacher noted that in the previous years, two teachers in the school were trained by health workers in monitoring and providing first aid for the learners. Howeber, all of them were transferred leaving the school helpless.  

He appealed to the district health and education departments to train the eight teachers who are currently in the school on how to monitor and provide first aid for the learners suffering from the nodding syndrome. He added that the school also asked parents to provide food for the school to support the learners.

Each learner was required to provide 10 kilograms of beans, 15 kilograms of maize flour and 3,000 Shillings for ingredients, to feed the learners with nodding syndrome while at school. However, Bosco Oringa one of the parents said that they failed to provide the food as required due to low crop yields and poor harvest since they spend more time tending to the children.   

Mark Rubangakene, the Labongo Akwang Sub County Chairperson told URN that they are currently engaging the health department and development partners in the area to provide training and food relief to the teachers and learners respectively. He added that the Labongo Akwang Sub County has more than 400 children suffering from nodding syndrome.  

Fred Owot, the Kitgum District Education Officer could not comment on the matter. However, Last month, renowned Ugandan pathologist Dr Silvester Onzivua who has been investigating the cause of nodding syndrome said that Uganda alone cannot investigate the syndrome and asked for more support.

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