Nodding disease is a mysterious illness that has killed 200 children in rural northern Uganda and has debilitated hundreds more, leaving doctors scrambling to find its cause and cure. Without modern medical answers or treatments, many desperate parents turn to traditional medicine for relief, which unfortunately does not help the situation. Many parents in despair have wished their children to die quickly, rather than to let them live in excruciating pain and die slowly. This is a critical gesture of hopelessness for the African mother who is known for resilience to weather difficult situations. As the disease hinders mothers from attending to their gardens to remain home to look after the affected children, many mothers are resorting to tying the affected children on the trees. Besides, if left to walk off, the affected children normally just keep wandering and get lost. The psychological and emotional torment of tying your own suffering child on a tree like a goat cannot be overstated.
Many of the children suffering from the nodding disease syndrome have developed severe mental retardation and cannot go back to school to continue with education. This has affected the school attendance and perhaps may contribute to school dropout. Most of the children are malnourished and need a special feeding program. More still, investigations into the possible cause or causes by Center for Disease Control have been extensive but without conclusion.
In response to this challenge, Food for the Hungry Uganda, with support of funds from FH Emergency Response Unit, is undertaking social mobilization and sensitization for identification and referral of nodding syndrome disease victims to treatment centers. A total 118 villages in 33 parishes and a total of six sub-counties in three districts have been targeted. For the period April to May, 844 cases have been identified and referred.
Let us continue upholding Northern Uganda in prayer believing and trusting God for his intervention particularly that a cure for the disease is found and that the suffering children and their families find solace in the Lord during this trying time. We pray God for resources to scale up the current intervention and to greatly use our staff in the field that are interfacing with sufferers; in ministering love and hope to these dear children and their families. He is able to do exceedingly greater above and beyond we ask for.