Grace Atim, an elderly mother and resident of Ajan village in Lamola Parish in Odek lost her daughter to the disease. She says if they are empowered through vocational training and soft skills such as agribusiness, village savings schemes, and tailoring and small business enterprises they will be able to fend for themselves and relieve the government the burden of begging.
Caretakers of children debilitated by the nodding disease syndrome
in Omoro District want the government to roll out special soft skills training
to ensure sustainable livelihood in their families. The affected
families say they have continued to survive on handouts from well-wishers and
charity organizations, saying the on-and-off relief interventions are
short-lived, which requires other strategies for self-reliance.
Filder Anyeko from Odek Sub-County in Omoro disclosed
that ever since her two sons aged 15 and 20 years were diagnosed with the
condition, it has always been an uphill task looking after them. She says
giving them startup capital with adequate training will ensure they become self-reliant
and support their homes.
Grace Atim, an elderly mother and resident of Ajan
village in Lamola Parish in Odek lost her daughter to the disease. She says if
they are empowered through vocational training and soft skills such as
agribusiness, village savings schemes, and tailoring and small business
enterprises they will be able to fend for themselves and relieve the government
the burden of begging.
Harriet Anena, 25, a resident of Teolam village in
Odek Sub-County whose two siblings have been grounded by the strange ailment
since 2013, says she dropped out of primary school to take care of them. Speaking
to URN, Anena contends that the care she gives the siblings has eaten up all
her time for further studies and urged the government to enrol her for a soft
skilling program to ensure she supports the family.
//Cue in..."Onongo anongo waci….”
Cue out… bitter as Ugandans.”//
David Ojok, a concerned resident of Ajan village
still in Odek observed that following the closure of the treatment center in
the area, several nodding syndrome patients have died because their families
are too vulnerable to give them care.
//Cue in..."Ma kijuk centre….”
Cue out… bitter as Ugandans.”//
Douglas Okello Peter Okao, the Omoro District LC
Chairperson told URN that he has written to the Office of the Prime Minister –
OPM to consider supporting the affected families through the livestock restocking
program to improve the living conditions of the affected families.
//Cue in..."And I have….”
Cue out… we are looking at.”//
Recently, the OPM through the Ministry of Northern
Uganda supplied the affected families in Omoro, Pader and Kitgum with iron
sheets to improve on the shelter for the patients but the families are too poor
to utilize the iron sheets.
Statistics from the District Health Department
shows at least seven of the children have died since 2018 following the closure
of the treatment center. There currently 77 children living with the condition in
need of urgent and proper health care.
The disorder, which the World Health Organization
– WHO, says has no set of causes was first documented in Tanzania in the 1960s,
then later in South Sudan in the 1990s and in northern Uganda in 2007. The
disease causes progressive cognitive dysfunction, nervous deterioration,
stunted growth and a characteristic nodding of the head.
Despite numerous and extensive investigations in
all three countries by researchers, very little is known about the cause. Some
researchers have attributed it to the parasitic nematode, which also causes
river blindness and to the blackfly
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.