Health Ministry In Emergency Meeting Over Nodding Disease

seek geneva; font-size: small;”>“Nothing is more important to the Government of Uganda than the health and well-being of its people, ailment ” said Dr Aceng Jane Ruth, Director General of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health.

The move comes at a time of increased public outcry that the Ministry has poorly handled the situation in Kitgum, Pader and neighbouring districts.

“Clearly, this outbreak of nodding disease in certain parts of northern Uganda is an issue of grave concern and we at the Ministry not only share the concern of people in the affected area, but are working hard to manage the situation”.

According to Aceng, Ministry of Health clinicians and officials are engaging with the WHO to ensure those who have contracted the disease are treated in the most prompt and effective way possible and that preventative measure are put in place to arrest new infections.

Aceng said: “A meeting will take place tomorrow (Tuesday 24 January 2012) between WHO officials and Ministry of Health clinicians at which an action plan will be agreed. After the meeting a statement will be issued on the proposed way forward.”

According to Dr William B. Mbabazi, between December 6 – 17, 2009, a multi-disciplinary team led by the Ministry of Health that included WHO/Uganda, CDC/Atlanta, Mulago Hospital, Makerere University and African Field Epidemiology Network investigated this outbreak.

The report of this team was presented to the Ministry of Health and indeed the leadership of the agencies involved for action, he wrote in a letter to a media house.

At that time and still relevant today, some recommendations must be implemented as we continue to learn more about this disease.


One of them is building the capacity of the health system (especially training of health workers) in the affected districts to detect, manage or refer and report nodding disease cases. Implementing this recommendation will facilitate determination of accurate case counts against which care and treatment will be planned

The second is establishing specialised care and treatment centres for nodding disease in the affected counties. Such specialised care and treatment centres would determine the best or combination treatment options of anti-convulsants to control the head nodding episodes; and provide technically strong human resources for health to correct mal-administration of anti-convulsants observed in the investigation and more importantly obtain more in-depth understanding of disease and thus possible causation.

It would also create opportunities for review and access to newly affected children in addition to observation of clinical progression of disease that in turn would bring the medical fraternity closer to causation.

It would assure availability of medicines and supplies needed for care and treatment of nodding disease symptoms including nutritional rehabilitation of victims.

The third is providing an opportunity for further research and specimens collection from head nodding affected cases and create hope in the affected families and communities that care and treatment is available and thus eliminate the psychosocial burden on the affected.

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