Let’s not forget victims of nodding disease

Health workers in Kitgum District who have been caring for children suffering from the nodding syndrome have abandoned work because of lack of facilitation by the government.

The health workers have gone for nine months without pay prompting them to stop the outreach programme of monitoring and caring for the sick children.

Clearly, it is an outrage that the government should for close to a year discontinue facilitation to the health workers.

It not only speaks about the government’s lack of commitment to provide for the health of its most vulnerable citizens – the children, but it also shows the difficult conditions health workers in the country operate under as they are accused by all and sundry of being so heartless as to abandon their patients.

Anyhow, Ugandans will recall that when the nodding syndrome was first reported in northern Uganda after the guns of war had fallen silent, the government denied that there was such an epidemic.

It took the bold actions of Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Atim Anywar to put them in a bus and drive them to Parliament for the government to accept that indeed there was a problem, and for resources to be marshalled to address the situation.

It is apparent that when the public attention to the disease waned, the resources waned too!

It is, therefore, important that the ministry of Health in particular and the government in general focuses itself on the nodding disease again by recommitting resources to provide palliative care and other forms of social and medical support to the families of the children who have been afflicted by this disease that has no cure and that is still little understood.

All too often, situations like this have been covered by international NGOs that mobilise funding under emergency relief.

But this should not and does not take away the primary responsibility of meeting health needs of the citizens from the government.

Clearly, the problem here is not the lack of money considering that government has been creating more districts, constituencies and dolling out money to politicians to aance political causes. It is the lack of care and prioritisation!


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