FACT CHECKER: Besigye on nodding disease

CLAIM. While campaigning in Kitgum District last week, the FDC presidential candidate said: “There is even now an NRM disease. Nodding disease is an NRM disease, it had never been heard of.”

FACT. Nodding disease is a mysterious affliction said to have emerged from Sudan in the 1960s. It first came to the attention of Ugandan authorities in Acholiland in 2009. It is an incurable, mentally disabling disease that mainly affects children, causing hallucinations, seizures and stunting. It is not known what causes the disease, but it is believed to be connected to infestations of the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, (prevalent in all outbreak areas) which causes river blindness and that is carried by the Black Fly. Tests carried out at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta found crystal-like substances in portions of the brains of afflicted patients. The substances that glittered under polarising lights were observed in the pon, a part of the brainstem where the spinal cord connects.

VERDICT. Not true that nodding disease had never been heard of.

On Karamoja government

CLAIM. Dr Besigye has said he will allow Karamoja sub-region to form a regional government, saying: “Instead of bringing a minister from Kampala to be minister of Karamoja, Karamoja will instead have its own government where you decide on your own matters here.”

The truth.
In an opinion published in Daily Monitor of January 22, 2012, Dr Besigye said although he together with the FDC party strongly support the adoption of a federal system of government for Uganda, given the history of State formation in the country, it is wrong to suggest that federalism is a panacea for poverty eradication or democratic and good governance. He observed that autonomously functioning, ethnically-based political entities of varying levels of sophistication were forcefully merged into one country by colonialism. The merged political entities had widely varying aspirations and cultures that were merely repressed rather than integrated. This, he said, has continued to be a basis for social-political disharmony and turmoil in the country. “Ethnicity has been the base of dictatorships that exploit and marginalise others. Federalism would promote harmony and unity without uniformity It also offers States (Regional) governments the freedom to espouse different development policies,” Dr Besigye wrote.

VERDICT. Plausible promise

SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR

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