Seven years ago, Ms Rufina Lamaji’s last born child Sunday Apiyo, started experiencing symptoms akin to cerebral malaria after a relatively healthy childhood. A few weeks later, Apiyo, now seven, but with the body of a three-year- old child, started experiencing seizures and nodding when given food.
Similarly, 65-year-old Marlona Achan is struggling with her granddaughter, Concy Abwoyo, who contracted the disease at eight years. Now 15, she is dumb and out of school. “If I am going to the garden, I have to tie her in the house and come back after estimating the time she is likely to need water or food,” Ms Achan said.
Hundreds of parents in Atanga, Angagura and Lapul sub-counties in Pader District share the same plight. They cannot venture far from the gardens because they have a heavy burden to deal with back at home – their children, who are suffering from the nodding disease.
Wounds are visible on the bodies of most of these children, who are also stunted in growth. The disease, which started about seven years ago, is said to be caused by a black fly from the neighbouring Aruu Falls.
A report by the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) indicates that close to 600 cases were reported between September 2010 and September 2011 leaving at least 50 people, mostly children between 6-19 years dead.
The head teacher of Aruu Falls Primary School, Mr Richard Nyeko, said 46 pupils have since dropped out of the school while 14 others are affected. “Sometimes, it attacks them in the class hence affecting teaching,” he said.
Ms Alice Kipwola, a social worker with TPO, said the biggest problem the organisation is facing is getting the required drugs. “We have to supply our own drugs which are not enough for the rising cases,” she said.
Residents of Lapul during a visit by a team led by the LC5, Mr Alfred Akena, on Wednesday, displayed placards condemning the government’s slow response to their plight. Mr Akena darkened the already sombre mood when he said: “I cannot serve a sick population as if we are not part of this country. The children are destroyed.” By A Web design Company
By A Web design Company