Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s ministry of health has refuted reports that there is little support being provided by government to deal with Nodding Disease (Nodding Syndrome) in the north of the country.
Minister of Health Dr Ruth Aceng told the press Monday that the supply of medicines is adequate in all the treatment centers and there has been no new case of nodding syndrome reported since commencement of interventions against Nodding Syndrome in 2012.
“Lately, the media has been awash with stories on Nodding Syndrome in Northern Uganda highlighting the appalling situation of the children affected by the disease in the districts of Kitgum, Pader and Omoro. The Ministry of Health would like to clarify,” she said, before issuing a long statement.
Last month, NTV Uganda focused on the disease in their Panaroma show that featured deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah, nearly in tears, lamenting the little support the region has got in their battle to restore and maintain health of its people.
Oulanya revealed that there is little funding, while most of the funding is not reaching the most affected people in northern Uganda. In his view, the ministry of finance seems to have its priorities upside down.
“What is the ministry of finance bringing to parliament now, supplementary proposals for …generating thermal power. I actually thought we are generating enough of our own power. We are still seeking a supplementary to pay Jacobsen, Electromax but no supplementary to help the people of northern Uganda. And I am here seated in the office as deputy speaker, it has stopped making sense to me,” Oulanyah told NTV.
“A government that does not care about its young people does not deserve its future,” he warned.
Minister Ruth Achen however told the press Monday that all efforts are being made to contain the disease.
“From our statistics and reports from the districts, no new case of nodding syndrome has been reported since commencement of interventions against Nodding Syndrome in 2012. New cases that have been reported as nodding syndrome have turned out to be cases of Epilepsy and sometimes febrile convulsions after verification and classification by the trained health workers, ” said Aceng in her statement, adding that ” however, all cases irrespective of diagnosis are receiving treatment as per the guidelines that are holistic and encompass all.”
She said ministry of health provides funding to procure food for only those patients who have been admitted (In patients) and a total of 1Sh1.8 billion has been transferred to the six districts of Kitgum, Lamwo, Gulu, Pader, Amuru and Oyam and two regional referrals hospitals of Gulu and Lira for the management of nodding syndrome.
Aceng however lamented poor accountability for the funds. “Accountability for the funds has been poor with over 237,396,000 Ug. Shs unaccounted for. Kitgum district is the biggest defaulter with over 109,311,860 million shillings not accounted for, followed by Lamwo district” she revealed.
Nodding syndrome is a severe neurological disorder that manifests as seizures, head nodding, cognitive impairment, multiple disabilities and affects children.
Aceng said the total numbers of deaths from the disease since 2102 stands at 137.
She revealed the various interventions and research going on on the disease, concluding that ” Ministry of Health would like to reiterate its firm commitment in managing the medical component of Nodding Syndrome as well as conclude on the much required research.”