You’ve Not Done Enough To Help The Affected People- Deputy Speaker Tayebwa Directs Gov’t To Take Concrete Action Against Nodding Syndrome

You’ve Not Done Enough To Help The Affected People- Deputy Speaker Tayebwa Directs Gov’t To Take Concrete Action Against Nodding Syndrome

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, directed the Government Chief Whip to convene a multi-sectoral meeting involving relevant stakeholders to comprehensively discuss nodding syndrome and report back to Parliament within one month.

Relevant stakeholders identified include the Ministry of Health, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Acholi Parliamentary Group, and other leaders in the affected areas.

The directive follows a call by legislators during plenary on Tuesday, 05 March 2024 for the restoration of rehabilitation centres in Northern Uganda to manage cases of the nodding syndrome.

According to a report of the Committee on Health following a field visit to assess the prevalence of nodding syndrome in Acholi sub-region, rehabilitation centres in the districts of Omoro and Kitgum districts were closed due to lack of counterpart funding from government and depletion of support from donors

Omoro District Woman Representative, Hon. Catherine Lamwaka, alluded to a presidential directive to the Ministry of Health to take over the facilities, which she said, has not been done.

“In the planning process, we should have a meeting with the Prime Minister and this ministry that this issue gets into the forthcoming budget, so that the centres are reopened with the establishment of health centre IIIs,” said Lamwaka.

Hon. Peter Okot (DP, Tochi County) noted that managers of rehabilitation centres in Omoro and Kitgum districts run short of funding and handed them to the local governments, with the expectation that government would appropriate money to support them.

“The last time money came from the central government was in 2018. To date, there had been no budget to support these centres so that children suffering from nodding syndrome are taken care of,” Okot said.

He urged government to ensure the centres are reopened and operational, and also give support to affected families.

The legislators made the call during a plenary sitting held on Tuesday, 05 March 2024, while responding to the findings and recommendations of the committee report.

The committee recommended that if funds to run a standalone rehabilitation centre are inadequate, the services should be integrated in the surrounding health facilities and necessary funding be made available for recruitment and operational costs.

The recommendation was seconded by Omoro County MP, Hon. Andrew Ojok, who proposed that the rehabilitation centre in Omoro District should be converted into a health centre III, so as to bring health services closer to the population.

Hon. Christopher Komakech (Indep., Aruu County), a neurotechnologist by profession, made a call for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for nodding syndrome in Pader District, as per the presidential directive.

MPs also tasked the Ministry of Health to present an update on the progress of research done on the nodding syndrome.

In the committee report, it was recommended that the ministry continue scientific research to establish the exact cause of nodding syndrome and consequently preventive and curative measures.

“The drug used for treatment is an anti-epileptic, and we were told that there was research being done. I want to ask the minister [Health] how far it has gone and when government will come to address this issue?” asked Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam District Woman Representative).

The State Minister for Health (Primary Healthcare), Hon. Margaret Muhanga, committed to follow up the President’s directive on establishment of two rehabilitation centres to manage nodding syndrome.

She added that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development advised that home treatment is recommendable for management. 

“The ministry [Gender] advised that it is better to have these children in their homes than in rehabilitation centres. It is a better way of dealing with them when they are with their parents who take care of their needs,” Muhanga said.

She added that the health ministry has made efforts to manage the syndrome with limited resources, and proposed a multi-sectoral approach to it.

“The ministry wrote a letter to the PSST [Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development/Secretary to the Treasury] requesting for funds but the money was not sufficient. Nonetheless, we have provided treatment for the over 2,200 affected children,” Muhanga said. an accessible web community

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