Government must probe rotten food report

Sunday September 16 2012

By Editorial

The revelation that patients of the nodding syndrome is being fed on rotting relief food is absurd. Although the authorities have denied and distanced themselves from the revelation, there is still need to investigate the allegation. The government should attend to the concerns of the patients and their parents.

Thousands of people in northern Uganda affected by this unknown disease have been struggling on their own to manage the syndrome which the government first announced in 2009. To date, the government response has been lackluster.

More than six months since government released the emergency plan that started in January, including mobile clinics, nutrition rehabilitation and screening centres, training health workers to handle the syndrome and setting up a research centre, not much has been achieved.
The Ministry of Health requested for Shs7b for emergency response, but less than half of that money has been released. The mobile clinics are non-functional because the only two available vans ran out of fuel.

Some treatment centres have not received food for nearly two months yet the food is supposed to be sent monthly. Worse still, when food was delivered at Atanga Health Centre III last month, residents alleged it was expired.

If true, then this defeats the purpose for which the treatment centres were established. The patients currently admitted at these centres expect to get the best treatment and all the necessary help.

There is a precedent to this kind of unacceptable response though. For instance, in 2007, the Office of the Prime Minister reportedly supplied fake pangas and rotten seeds worth Shs5b to Internally Displaced Persons in Acholi.


So far, the government response to the nodding disease has been surprisingly inadequate. This is despite the fact that at least 200 children have reportedly died and more than 3,000 are affected by the syndrome.

While we recognise the efforts of the Health ministry to deal with the disease, we still believe that a lot needs to be done. There is great need to get to the root cause of the disease if a lasting solution is to be found.