At least some 2,076 people in Kitgum district are suffering from
epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent epileptic
The figure compiled since 2012 to 2019 indicates the disease burden is high
among rural communities of Labongo Amida and Labongo Akwang sub-counties.
Barbra Rose Olum, the in-charge of Mental Health Department at Kitgum General
Hospital, says that the high numbers of epileptic patients in the district is
She says majority of those experiencing recurrent seizures as a result of
inadequate treatment coupled with poor feeding and care have become less
productive in the society because of their mental retardation.
Olum points out that girls who are suffering from the condition in the rural
communities remains vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases as a result of rape by relatives and unknown people.
// Cue in: “If we are…
Cue out:…a big number.”//
According to Olum, the facility has registered three more new cases of epilepsy
among three male children aged five years last month, raising more worries of
the underlying causes of the disease in the area.
She, however, says they lack the adequate manpower to handle the high numbers
of the epileptic patients who are mostly in and out of the facility due to
recurrent epileptic seizures.
There are currently only four health workers at the mental health
facility who mostly tend to epileptic patients.
//Cue in: “currently we have…
Cue out:.. and akwang sub-county.”//
A total of 544 patients recovering from nodding syndrome who are now
experiencing recurrent seizures are also receiving treatment from the same
facility according to Olum.
Nodding Syndrome is a mentally and physically disabling disease that affects
children, between the ages of 5 and 15.
The mental health department at the hospital had been receiving funds from the
ministry of health and Office of the Prime Minister to support feeding and
outreach activities for some of the patients on treatment within the hard to
Olum, however, says the fund which is crucial towards supporting their work has
not been sent since last year, raising fears that some of those who were already
regaining could retard.
Despite awareness campaigns government and stakeholders are promoting about
epilepsy not being a mental disorder, many parents in Kitgum district still
face hardship and stigma raising children afflicted by the disease.
For 60-year-old Margaret Abwono, a resident of Lagaya west in Labongo Amida Sub
County, taking care of her now 20-year-old granddaughter suffering from
epilepsy has been her greatest nightmare for the past five years.
Abwono says she hardly earns enough money to take care of herself yet she is
expected to feed her granddaughter three times a day because of the strong
medicines she uses for taming her mood and avoiding convulsion.
She is, however, grateful that the Mental Health Department at Kitgum general
hospital have been supportive with free medication for the patient and counselling
her to cope with her granddaughter’s health situation.
//cue in: “Latin eni two…
cue out:…yat omito ocam.”//
Estherina Aryemo, another parent whose 19-year-old-son is also suffering from
epilepsy reveals that teachers rejected him while in primary two, shortly after
he started showing signs of mental retardation.
Aryemo says her son’s health condition which started in 2012 has prevented her
from doing anything productive because she constantly keeps watch of him to
avoid drowning or falling in fire.
//cue in: “gin ango ma…
Cue out:…ne pe yot.”//
The cause of epilepsy is still unknown in about 50% of cases globally according
to World Health Organization-WHO.