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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Uganda : Nodding disease, the new terror in Acholi sub-region

Via Daily Monitor, excerpt :

" About 2003, symptoms of a disease started appearing in the northern Uganda. For lack of name, it was baptised from one of its notable symptoms - Nodding. Now almost every family in most of Acholi sub-region has a victim of the disease, and the communities there are not at peace.

Imagine if you gave birth to a child that is retarded! How about if you have to tie your child on a tree using a rope every time you have to engage in any house chores? Or you dread cooking food in your house because you know if your child smells it, they will collapse.

Now, stop imagining - for this is happening right here in Uganda. And it could be one of your relatives.

For the last three years, at least a family in the districts of Kitgum, Pader and Lamwo, has registered a nodding disease case. Following the threats from MPs on the Acholi parliamentary group to ferry the sick children to the ministry headquarters, health officials made a tour to the affected areas to assess the situation.

On Thursday, January 5, 2012, the health ministry officials, MPs from the Acholi sub-region and officers from the affected districts gathered at Kitgum District headquarters to discuss the way forward on the nodding disease.

Inside the hall where the briefing was held the air was thick and hot. It had dark brown curtains hanging in the 15 windows, and on the wall was a portrait of President Yoweri Museveni caked with thick dark brown dust. The silence in the room spelt out clearly the quagmire that engulfed Kitgum District and other districts around it. You could almost hear the breath intervals of the over 200 people in attendance.

And when the minister stood up to speak, it was not the normal exchange of pleasantries at those meetings. This time there were no people singing and chanting by the road side as is always the case."

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