I am have been actively raising awareness of Nodding Syndrome. A syndrome describes an illness for which doctors only know the symptoms. For something to be defined a disease, they have to know how it is caused. Nodding Syndrome also affects children in very poor communities in South Sudan and Tanzania.
The context of nodding syndrome in northern Uganda is societal in the sense that it is a problem predominantly in children from 5 to 15 years old; the incidence, prevalence, morbidity and mortality in this age group suggest peri-domestic and societal factors coming into play. The children were vulnerable because they were still in developmental stage during which they experienced the atrocities and adversity in the Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDPs).
There is a very high level of infant mortality or death in the first year of life, mainly due to malaria, childhood pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. In the camps, children from 0-5 years were dying because of living under the poorest conditions where there is not enough food, pure water, or decent housing and sanitation, (Civil Society Organisation for Peace in Northern Uganda, 2006).
When food is very scarce, food security has an important impact, on the recovery of the children.
The question that is constantly being asked is what is the cause of this seizure-like episodes of head nodding, which mostly affects children between 5 and 15 years and why the seizures are often, triggered by food. The children shun food, because the seizure can be provoked when the child is eating; malnutrition sets in leading to physical stunting and slow learning. The stigma attached to nodding syndrome; arise because other children do not want to share rooms with the children who exhibit involuntary behaviours, activities and emotional state when they suffer bouts of fit. The sad thing is that these children isolated and tend to drop of school and sadly lose the will to live as shown by the child in the photo. Many get seizures, which take one to three hours to regain consciousness and deaths have been known to result accidents such as falling in water of fire.
Children need decision makers who put their well being ahead of selfish adult interest. That is clearly lacking in Uganda at the moment. Three treatment centres were opened unfortunately they are inadequately staffed; people who were interviewed were unable to take up post because of lack of money. Reading from recent posting the money which was destine to resource these services went walking.
Dr Caesar J Acaye