The Ugandan government needs to further research the so-called "nodding disease" rather than continuing with current treatment procedures, says an American doctor who visited the areas where most victims are found.
The strange ailment which has devastated the lives of thousands of children in the neglected northern region of Uganda.
The victims behave as if they are falling asleep, while also drooling uncontrollably. It's a fatal, mentally and physically incapacitating disease. It stunts the growth of children permanently -- including the brain -- and leads to mental retardation.
The disease, according to doctors, affects the nerves of children between the ages of 5 to 17 years. More than 7,000 cases of the nodding syndrome have been registered in the past two years.
The American, Dr. Suzanne Gazda, who recently met with members of the media in Gulu, the regional capital here, urged the government to carry out more research on the disease. Dr. Gazda, a neurologist from San Antonio, Texas, warned that there should be more study on the brains of victims of the disease before continuing with other treatments. She also promised to set up a treatment center which she said would be used as a day care center for the nodding children. She is one of the founders of Hope for Humans organization.
She is also known for setting up a treatment Center at Aromo Wanglobo in Odek Sub County in Gulu district.
Division among politicians and turf wars are also slowing down the attempts to rally global support. On Feb. 18, a meeting organized between victims of the disease and a potential donor, by the Member of Parliament who represents Women in the national legislature, was disrupted by a local official.
The meeting for community members of Tumangu, in Akwang Sub County, Kitgum District by Member of Parliament Beatrice Anywar was halted when the District Chairman for Kitgum, Luka Nyeko, said it wasn't cleared through him. He claimed no one can ever go with any intervention or well-wishers straight to the villages devastated by nodding syndrome unless they pass through his office.
Nyeko noted that he fears that soon people will begin soliciting money from abroad in the name of helping the nodding syndrome afflicted children and end up with the money in their pocket.
Anywar said Nyeko was a self-designated task force chairperson for the nodding syndrome and that his actions would disrupt measure to help fight the disease. Instead of lobbying and attracting more support for the uncared for children, Nyeko was fighting the very people who could help, she said.