ACHOLI: Over 500 patients with nodding disease in critical condition

A patient struggling with nodding diesease. File Photo

Kitgum, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 550 children with nodding syndrome in Acholi sub-region are in critical condition and need to be at a care center. Preliminary data collected by Archbishop John Baptist Odama Care Center Kitgum-AJBOCCK in April 2022 indicates that there are 4,925 children in Acholi sub-region with nodding syndrome and 550 of these need to be taken care of at a care center.

Out of the 550, Kitgum has 62, Pader 431, Omoro 42, Amuru 8, and Lamwo has seven (7) who are critically ill. In October this year, AJBOCCK started taking care of children with nodding syndrome whose conditions are severe. Stephen Oyet, the chairperson of AJBOCCK, revealed that they have only been able to take full care of six (6) children at the care center instead of the planned 250 children.

Speaking during the Christmas lunch for children suffering from nodding syndrome in Pader district on Sunday, Oyet said the center plans to add more 150 children before May 2023, but they need support from partners.

Fr. Anthony Nyeko, the Director of AJBOCCK, said that putting children at the care center would make them improve faster because they are given holistic care.

Fr. Nyeko revealed that the few children who are at the care center have greatly improved, and those who were no longer talking have started talking because they are being given language therapy and physiotherapy.

He said the children can now eat by themselves, fetch water from their borehole and ably use the toilet unlike when they were with their parents.

Fr. Anthony said the priority of the care center is to ensure that all the 550 critical victims are placed at a care center so that they resume taking drugs.

According to Fr. Anthony, a number of patients are not adhering to medication because of inadequate food.

He appealed to individuals and development partners to join hands and support the care center, which also has plans to give vocational skills so that they can improve their livelihood when they finally go back home.

AJBOCCK, which is located at St Mary’s Catholic Mission Kitgum, decided to get fully involved in caring for children with nodding syndrome after two centers in Odek sub-county, Omoro district and Tumanguu in Labongo Akwang sub-county, in Kitgum district that were offering specialized treatment to the children closed.

The care centers strategic plan which runs from 2022-2027 is to enhance health care and medication of nodding syndrome victims, provide physiotherapy and language therapy, improve food, nutrition, and income security, promote research on food and behavior, provide spiritual support and vocational skills training to those who have recovered.

Dr. Benson Oyoo, the Pader District Health Officer said some of the reasons parents abandon their children is because they believe the children are cursed.

Dr. Oyoo appealed to religious leaders and other leaders to help in changing the mindset of the parents that the children are not cursed, and can improve with care and proper nutrition.

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