KAMPALA-Parliament has directed the Auditor General to conduct a forensic on the Shs1.3 billion allocated to support nodding disease affected persons.
The MPs on Wednesday, 20 July 2022 adopted a motion tabled by Kitgum District Woman MP, Hon. Lilian Aber, urging government to prioritise interventions into nodding disease in Northern Uganda.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, nodding disease syndrome is a neurologic condition that is characterized by episodes of repetitive dropping forward of the head, often accompanied by other seizure like activity like convulsions or staring spells.
Reports of the disease emerged as early as 1998 in Kitgum district. However, thousands of cases were registered in Northern Uganda in the late 2000s.
Now Members of Parliament have called for prioritisation of interventions into nodding disease but also an audit into funds injected into the treatment and support to those affected by the disease. In March 2018, Parliament authorized government to spend shs1.3 billion for the revitalization of the intervention for nodding syndrome in Northern Uganda.
This followed a passionate drive and campaign to raise funds and support the children affected by the disease by the late Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah.
Now in her motion, Aber urged the government to ensure the appropriate use of funds allocated, fast track the operationalization of facilities disease and train personnel to intervene in treating the disease.
Aber says that the number of nodding disease affected children remains high with Kitgum having 1,449 while the mental health department which supports the children is also overwhelmed and lacks capacity.
“We request that government provides food relief and shelter to the affected family. There is an NGO, Irene Gleeson Foundation that has taken the mantle to spearhead mobilization for food items to support these families but it would have been better if the Office of the Prime Minister took on this,” Aber said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, called for immediate, medium and long term strategy to curb the disease saying the disease was seriously affecting the children.
“We need resources to go and take care of the immediate social needs of these families and their housing conditions; they have no food and they look dejected,” Mpuuga said.
Hon. Anifa Kawooya, the Minister of State for Health in Charge of General Duties said that government is alive to the challenge of the nodding syndrome.
“Initially the Ministry of Health was the one receiving the budget for nodding disease but from the financial years 2018 and 2019, the Ministry of Finance sends the money directly to the districts,” she said.
She added that the ministry welcomes the forensic audit into the funds provided to cater for the victims.
Aringa north County MP, Hon. Godfrey Onzima said that what is needed is a comprehensive report and accountability.
Hon. Betty Aol Ocan (FDC, Gulu City) stated that a non-governmental organisation, Irene Gleeson Foundation has reported new cases of the disease. She said that the Ministry of Health needs to take charge and ensure that these cases are managed.
“People are asking if we have done something for these nodding syndrome children, it is a big shame,” she said.
Hon. Lucy Akello, the Amuru District Woman MP said that the disease is treatable if the children are given the right food. She said in her constituency, five children from one family are all battling nodding disease.
Speaker Anita Among called for an audit on the funds that have already been released for the treatment of nodding disease.
Among tasked government to report to the House after every three months.
“We will have a forensic audit on the funds released for nodding disease in addition to the rest of the prayers. The Minister of Finance should also give us evidence that this money has been going to the districts,” Anita Among said.