Thursday, March 29, 2012


News Feature No3/2012
Kampala: ‐28th March 2012

By Sensasi Benjamin

Grace Adyero, like many other caretakers in the room hardly says a word or smiles. She only stares blankly at the child lying on the bed with grief written all over her face. Her demeanor and facial expression seem to inaudibly ask “why me?”

“We have been here for two days and now he has rested a bit. It must be the medicine and food they have given him. He was worse at home and we had given up on him ‐ just waiting for him to die one day,” she tells me through an interpreter.

Other caretakers in this new Nodding Syndrome (NS) Screening and Treatment Center in Kitgum hospital has almost a similar story. “We kept him tethered to a pole at home so that he does not wander off, fall and hurt himself. These wounds you see are from the many falls he has had. One day he almost fell into my cooking pot. That’s when we decided to start tying him up, Margaret Acan, mother of nine-year-old Tom tells me.

And how is Tom since you came here three days ago, I ask. “The seizures have been very few, but he does not eat. The medicine has helped him, but I wish they could give me something to make him eat. These nurses have helped us. There is nothing else I can do for him now only the nurses here can help me,” Margaret Acan says with teary eyes.

Such is the hope pinned on this treatment center that within only 11 days of its opening it received 191 patients. Of these, 115 met the standard case definition of NS and were immediately started on treatment. Other screening and treatment centers have been opened in Pader and Lamwo districts. As of 23rd March these two centers had received 597 and 7 affected children respectively. Of these, 414 and 5 cases respectively met the standard case definition of NS.

Nodding syndrome is characterized by head nodding episodes that consist of repetitive dropping forward of the head. The nodding is sometimes precipitated by food or cold weather and is often accompanied by other seizures like convulsions or staring spells. During the episodes, the child stops feeding and appears non‐responsive, with or without loss of consciousness. There is deterioration of brain function in some of the victims, and malnutrition with growth retardation in the majority of cases.

Fortunately patients can be treated with anti‐epileptic drugs such as Sodium Valproate that has been particularly effective in the control of seizures. Subsequently, patients are given nutrition supplements and food that are now available in the three treatment centers courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Office. Added to these are rehabilitation services intended to restore patient’s activities of daily living such as self feeding, bathing and brushing. Finally, is the psychosocial support that is yet to kick off but targeted at patients and their families aimed at restoring social acceptability in the family and communities.

In a nutshell, that is the intent and purpose of the three NS Screening and Treatment Centers that were opened last week in the three most affected districts. Although the centers are now functional, health workers however admit that patients so far seen are too few given the estimated magnitude of the disease in the community.

They attribute this “low turn up” to long distances parents and caretakers have to traverse to reach the centers. For instance, Abamu village in Lamwo district which is most affected is about 40km from the nearest treatment centre at Palabek Kal. This is a long journey that many parents are notable to undertake given that most of the sick children cannot walk and transportation means are scarce in the area.

The Ministry of health as responded to this by purchasing four vehicles and attached them to each of the centers to specifically transport children from the villages for treatment. “There shouldn’t be any excuses as to why children don’t get treatment now. Let’s all play our part, let’s get the children to the treatment centers,” declared Dr Asuman Lukwago, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of health.

Complementing these efforts is training of health workers in the proper management and treatments of NS cases. So far, 99 health workers have been trained in case management with support from Word Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC). These trained health workers are expected to cascade the training to lower health units in their districts. “Every quarter we will come to monitor the performance of these health workers. The medicines and food are available, what we need is close supervision especially by district authorities,” said Dr Ruth Aceng, the Director General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health.

Presently, WHO and CDC scientists are studying the link that may exist between NS and
Onchocerciasis. This is mainly because about 93% of all NS cases are from onchocerciasis endemic areas creating a strong hypothesis for the association as the potential cause.

Indeed, it is because of this strong association that WHO is advising the government to undertake mass treatment of onchocerciasis with ivermectin throughout the affected districts. “We are going to support these efforts. However, our response to NS should not take our focus from other problems such as malaria and HIV/AIDS that continue to kill more people than NS” said Dr Joaquin Sebeka WHO Representative to Uganda. He recommended health systems strengthening as the best solution not only to fight NS but also other health problems in the country.

There are many aspects of NS that need study and support. Research is one fundamental area to which WHO and CDC are committing considerable time and resources. “ We need to know exactly what causes NS; what are the best treatment options; what does NS eventually result into; and what are its social impact in the affected communities” noted Dr Saweka.

Hopefully, these and many more questions will form the core contents of an International
Workshop on NS that the Government of Uganda, WHO, CDC and other partners are organizing to
Be held in May or June this year.

For now, Grace Adele and many more in her situation can only stare blankly at her son. It is clear all she wants is effective treatment for her child and to take him home as soon as possible.

For more information please contact Benjamin Sensasi, Health Promotion Adviser, WHO Country Office Tel 256-41-334400 Email:

Deforestation rates double in the Congo Basin: Report

Press Release
(March 20, 2012) _ Although the level of deforestation in the world’s second-largest tropical forest remains relatively low compared to similar regions in Asia and Latin America, the latest satellite-based monitoring data has revealed that the annual rates of gross deforestation in the Congo Basin have doubled since 1990, according to a new study.

The report, State of the Forest, is the most recent comprehensive assessment of forest cover in the six-nation Congo Basin, Central Africa. It cites population growth, immigration, economic development and global demand for natural resources as the major pressures on the forests.

While the report says the evaluation of threats to forests remains “a delicate exercise with many uncertainties,” it lists five primary drivers of deforestation: fuel wood extraction, agriculture, mining and oil extraction, expansion of biofuels and logging.

And although countries of the region have launched initiatives to preserve their economic resources, protect biodiversity and the creation of protected areas, “results have not lived up to expectations nor do they satisfactorily reflect investments to date”.

The 274-page report says the forest cover change estimates are of critical importance for Central African policymakers as well as for a UN climate change mechanism known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which could see developed countries contribute significant funding to developing ones to safeguard their forests.

“The Congo Basin’s forests are at the heart of intense negotiations at the global level,” said Carlos de Wasseige, coordinator of the technical center of the Observatory for Central African Forests, which coordinated the production of the study. “This report aims to provide comprehensive and reliable information to decision-makers in Central Africa for the interest of the States and the populations of the region. Central African countries can be proud of this initiative, conceived in a remarkable spirit of collaboration and very often cited in international arena as an example to replicate in other parts of the world.”

Although the State of the Forest report lists logging as one of the five primary direct threats to forest cover, the report emphasises that log production in the formal sector—which has been negatively affected by a steep drop in demand due to the 2007-2008 global economic downturn—accounts for just 3 percent of global tropical timber production, far behind Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.

But research conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based on a systematic appraisal of the economic and social impacts of chainsaw milling in the Congo Basin—the informal lumber sector—indicates it is much more important than suggested in regulatory frameworks and official data.

Researchers found that little attention has been paid to the sector across the region, even though it has been moving ahead of industrial production and exports of sawn timber. In Cameroon, for example, domestic consumption rose to 860,000 cubic meters of sawn wood in 2009 while sawn wood exports declined to 343,000 cubic meters.

“The reported timber volumes and the social dynamics behind the informal timber sector call for its long-awaited acknowledgement by policy makers and its better integration in current and future forest policies,” said Robert Nasi, a CIFOR Director and co-author of the report.

State of the Forest, the third in a bi-annual series of reports on the Congo Basin forest region, is the first to base its indicators and estimates on a vast amount of satellite images acquired over the last two decades.

Prior to the mid-1990s, the understanding of forest change in the Congo Basin, which remains for the most part a notoriously difficult region for researchers to access, was largely based on patchy and anecdotal information without spatially explicit delineation on forests or statistically robust estimates of forest cover change. And the lack of accurate, up-to-date information on the current state and evolution of Central Africa’s forested areas has been seen as a major factor limiting the design of efficient forest management policies.

But thanks to the latest mapping technology that took advantage of much more recent satellite time series the State of the Forest has produced a new forest map that consistently covers the six Congo Basin countries plus Rwanda and Burundi. The production of the map relied on a semi-automatic method that combined statistical classification, expert consultation and manual editing.

For the first time 20 classes of land cover ranging from dense moist forest to mosaic of cultivated land and natural vegetation were mapped for the Congo Basin at a 300-meter resolution. And because of the increased availability of satellite images, including almost 3,000 daily SPOT-VGT observations, the quality of the mapping of the state of tropical forest degradation in the countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean has been greatly enhanced.

Results of the forest change sampling method based on an approach that covers four forest change processes—deforestation, degradation, reforestation and regeneration—estimated a gross deforestation annual rate of 0.13 percent for the period 1990-2000; the rated doubled to 0.26 percent for the period 2000-2005. The highest gross deforestation rates occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, while deforestation rates actually stabilized in Gabon and the Central African Republic. Analysis is on-going to determine deforestation rates for the period 2005-2010.


To download a copy of the study, visit:

The State of the Forest is produced by the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. More than 100 authors contributed to the latest edition, under the coordination of the Observatory for Central African Forests (OFAC), an information platform funded and supported by the European Commission (EuropeAid and Joint Research Centre) and implemented by a consortium of scientific institutions (the French organisation Agricultural Research for Development, the Center for International Forestry Research, Université catholique de Louvain, and the Forest Resource Management).


The Center for International Forestry Research(CIFOR) advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing counties. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Regional Early warning system for food prices

By Esther Nakkazi

A regional early warning system built on a forecast model for food prices is being tried out to alleviate food insecurity in the eastern Africa region. Food shortages are projected to affect up to 20 million people in this region, a three million increase since 2011.

The $600,000 project is funded by the World Bank through the regional Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) working with the Economic Social Research Foundation and the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC).

Researchers will collect primary data generated by national Bureaus of Standards and databases in the region, standardize the data to generate monthly and quarterly analytical reports on food and input prices in the region and strengthen capacity for policy formulation and analysis.

“We do not have to use historical data and depend on post-mortems all the time. We need current data to effectively predict future prices,” said Prof. Jumanne Maghembe, the Tanzania Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives in Dar es Salaam last week.

“If you want to give subsidies to farmers, the first subsidy is a good price,” continued Maghembe at the launch of the ‘Food Price Trends Analysis and Policy Options for Enhancing Food Security in Eastern Africa” project meeting.

National implementing agencies include the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Tanzania; the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), Uganda; the National University of Rwanda (NUR), the University of Nairobi (UoN); Ethiopia Development Research Institute (EDRI); Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya.

Although it is anticipated to enhance regional trade gains, it is also expected to improve policy mechanism responses and interventions by governments.

For instance it is anticipated that the ad hoc policy responses like export bans and input subsidies that were repeated for three years in 2009 to 2010 to address the hunger crisis could have been avoided if recurrent data were available.

A brief by ASARECA says the repetition of these policy responses by governments and policy makers implies that there is a disconnect in policy responses and the food price crisis.

It exposed the lack of a regional mechanism for generating evidence efficiently and informing policy action in emergency situations such as the food crisis quickly.

According to Dr. Francis Mwaijande, the Principal Investigator of the project the negative effects of high food prices could have been ameliorated if policy makers had been better informed about the agricultural situation at the time.

Dr. Michael Waithaka, the Manager for Policy Analysis and Advocacy programme, ASARECA, said it was important to keep food prices, markets and barriers on commodity trade high on the policy agenda of the regional governments to mitigate the adverse effects of the high food prices.

Ultimately, the meeting heard that policy actions formulated would have to protect the consumption and welfare of those vulnerable to high prices. But currently the largest proportion of escalating prices goes to middlemen.

“You should check and see who benefits from good prices in the food chain. If good prices reach the farmers they will take on fertilizers and borrow if they need to and invest in their farms, which will increase their productivity,” Dr. Maghembe.

“We can only manage the market side of agriculture, to be able to manage the production side.”

The project was initiated by ASARECA. It and is being implemented in five Eastern Africa countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania for 20 months.


Grain Institute for Eastern Africa launched

By Esther Nakkazi

Although commodity prices overall remained stable in February, they will continue to rise in the next two months in all the East African region countries, says a market analysis report in the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN).

RATIN is a service provided by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), which contains a market bi-weekly analysis of market activities and prices across the region’s selected main grain markets to help reduce regional food insecurity.

EAGC market and border monitors based in the region’s five countries, on a daily basis collect and transmit to RATIN whole sale prices of maize, beans, rice, wheat, sorghum, millet and factors that trigger price changes of such commodities.

According to the two latest reports, commodity prices in February were stable due to a fall in demand as markets still relied on stock from the previous harvests.

For instance, in this month, (March) maize, the most traded commodity in the region had its prices remain fairly stable in all the regions’ markets, trading at a weekly average wholesale price of $225 per metric ton in Tanzania, $357 in Kenya, $270 in Uganda, $486 in Rwanda and $364 in Burundi.

But by early March the prices for maize in all markets increased by 2-10 percent in all the monitored markets by EAGC based in Nairobi and they will continue to rise over the next two months.

The RATIN mid-March market analysis report says the price of maize in the region’s markets is likely to continue rising due to increased demand as a result of the planting currently going by farmers.

The prices will further be affected by demand from South Sudan, which has poor grain production and its maize prices are almost double the average for the region, triggered by low harvests and trade disruptions.

This trend will most likely affect the prices of maize and other commodities in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, the RATIN mid-March analysis report says.

Meanwhile, EAGC also recently launched the first Grain Institute in the agribusiness sector for the region known as the Eastern Africa Grain Institute (EAGI).

Ultimately, the initiative seeks to improve efficiency, strengthen the capacity of domestic and regional markets to absorb grain surpluses as well as to reduce transaction costs in grain output markets in the region.

The institute will train, mentor and provide technical agribusiness training and capacity building to key stakeholders in the grain value chain, said Janet Kalulu Ngombalu, the marketing and communications manager at EAGC.

Ms. Ngombalu said EAGI is the first in Africa and aspires to be the industry leader in delivering customized training and educational programs for players in the grain sector and other agricultural value chains.

EAGI will include courses like grain post harvest handling techniques and technologies including grain warehousing and storage management as well as structured trading systems for the grain sector, including grain quality standardization and grading.

IT will also train in utilization of warehouse receipt systems in promoting structured trade and market linkages; inventory‐backed structured financing; managing price and other market risks using instruments such as futures and options contracts offered by commodity exchange.

Stakeholders in the grains value chains including farmers, traders, grain handler, processors, millers and consumers particularly in Eastern Africa and Southern Africa region are expected to benefit from training at the Institute.

It will support the development of the commercial value chains by building the capacity of key stakeholders, thereby enabling them to effectively utilize emerging new agricultural marketing and finance institutions such as agricultural commodity exchanges, said Jackson Kiraka an official from EAGI.

The EAGC is collaborating with the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich and other leading institutions and universities in Eastern Africa, in designing and developing the training programmes.

The proposed courses are based on a training needs analysis and stakeholder consultations, which was recently conducted in the region.

Each of the courses would have a certification process, with the possibility of advancing to post‐graduate degree qualifications from the Greenwich University in the United Kingdom.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ANALYSIS: Will a Financial Transaction Tax Become a Reality? And Will It Help the Global Fund?

Global Fund Observer Issue 178

Of every $1 contributed to the Global Fund, more than 95 cents comes from the governments of rich countries. The Global Fund has been trying for years to obtain more revenue from other sources. Despite sizeable donations from foundations like Gates ($750 million donated for the period 2011-2016) and private sector companies (Chevron pledged $55 million for the period 2008-2013) - and despite product marketing campaigns such as (PRODUCT) REDTM which has generated $180 million for the Global Fund to date - such contributions still account for only a very small proportion of revenues.

Governments and activists have been searching for innovative ways to generate additional revenues - not just for the Global Fund itself, but also for the fight against specific diseases and for health and development more generally.

Two of the ideas that have been explored are a tax on airline tickets and a tax on financial transactions.

The tax on airline tickets is already a reality. Between 2006 and April 2011, the tax raised $2 billion for UNITAID, an international facility for purchasing drugs for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. As of September 2011, nine of UNITAID's 29 member countries were implementing the airline tax: Cameroon, Chile, Congo, France, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger and the Republic of Korea.

The size and scope of the tax vary by country. For most passengers, the tax ranges from $1 for economy-class tickets to $10-40 for business and first-class travel. Some countries impose the tax only on international travel. The airline tax constitutes 70% of UNITAID's revenues.

In September 2011, UNITAID commissioned a study on how to implement a financial transactions tax (FTT) on a national basis. Authors of the study estimated that a very small tax on a variety of financial transactions (e.g., 0.005% of the value of futures contracts linked to equities) could generate 265 billion euros annually in the G-20 countries.

The idea of using an FTT to fund international development has been around for at least a decade. It has been promoted mostly by civil society organisations, such as the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN), but the Government of France has also been supportive of the idea. GFAN is a network of organisations and individuals dedicated to ensuring that the Global Fund is adequately funded.

The following is a summary of some developments over the past few years:
Several organisations began pushing for a "Currency Transaction Levy for Health" in 2009.

In 2009, the idea of an FTT received support from Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.In February 2010, a coalition of 50 charities and civil society organisations launched a U.K.-based campaign for a tax on financial transactions (which they dubbed the "Robin Hood tax").
A proposal to implement an FTT was discussed at the G-20 summit in Cannes, France in 2011, but failed to win the backing of a majority of the G-20 countries.

The European Union has discussed imposing an FTT but has not been able to reach a consensus. France and Germany favour the idea, but the U.K. is opposed. Prime Minister David Cameron argued that such a tax would penalise the City of London where 75% of European financial transactions take place. 

Some E.U. countries have argued for an FTT to be implemented only within the 17-country Eurozone; this would exclude some reluctant governments such as that of the U.K. Some E.U. countries have signalled that they may be prepared to go ahead with an FTT on their own.

On 29 January 2012, French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced plans to introduce an FTT in France. Subsequently, the French parliament approved a bill instituting an FTT; collections will start in August 2012. The tax is expected to generate €0.4 billion in 2012 and €1.1 billion a year from 2013 onwards. 

There was no mention in either Sarkozy's announcement or in the bill adopted by the French parliament about using some of the proceeds of the tax for international development. This is of concern to French activists because Sarkozy had previously said that proceeds from the FTT should go to international development.

There will be presidential elections in France in May 2012. The candidates from the two major parties have included in their campaign manifestos a promise to increase the FTT (from what the French parliament has already adopted) and to allocate part of it to international development; but the manifestos don't say what portion of the tax might go to international development. French activists are afraid that this might turn out to be just another unfulfilled campaign promise.

GFAN and other activist groups are concerned about the possibility that as countries adopt the FTT, they may decide to use the proceeds exclusively or primarily to reduce budget deficits instead of to boost international aid (including for the Global Fund.)

Information for this article was taken from a variety of sources, including articles on the websites of Wikipedia, the BBC, the Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, UNITAID and Agence France Presse (AFP).

Monday, March 12, 2012

UNESCO: Disappointing Vote on Obiang Prize

Press Release; A Failure to Support Basic Human Rights and Good Governance
(Paris, March 9, 2012) – A split vote by UNESCO’s Executive Board to approve a prize sponsored by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea puts the president’s interests above UNESCO’s basic principles of human rights and good governance, seven civil society groups said today. 

The March 8, 2012 decision by a commission of the board to change the controversial award’s name and press UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova to implement it is due to be formally adopted in a plenary session today.

“Whether it’s ever awarded or not, the vote in favor of a US$3 million international prize for life science sponsored by a government that fails to invest sufficiently in basic health care at home is a cruel joke,” said Tutu Alicante, an Equatoguinean lawyer who runs the human rights group EG Justice from exile. “The UNESCO board members who backed this prize have sold out the organization's principles and have tarnished UNESCO's reputation.”

The Executive Board approved the prize after a deeply divided vote. All 14 African countries on the board voted in favor of the prize, honoring a pro-prize resolution they had signed at the African Union Summit held in Equatorial Guinea in June 2011 when Obiang was the organization’s chair. 

Arab member countries on the board also voted in support of the prize and were joined by Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, India, and Russia. Most of the board’s Caribbean and European members strongly opposed the award, together with Afghanistan, Peru, and the United States.

Wenceslao Mansogo, an Equatoguinean doctor who is also a prominent human rights defender and opposition member, urged UNESCO delegates to abolish the prize in a letter written from his prison cell, where he has been unjustly detained since February 9 for politically motivated reasons. The government also ordered his clinic closed, highlighting the hypocrisy of a prize intended to improve “the quality of human life.”

It remains unclear if Bokova will implement the renamed “UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea prize,” in light of the irregularities in the description of the award’s financing, which violate the organization’s own rules.

There remain unanswered questions about the prize’s funding sources. The original prize statute stipulated that the prize would be funded by the Obiang Nguema Mbasogo Foundation for the Preservation of Life. On February 9, the government of Equatorial Guinea informed UNESCO that the prize funds instead came from the public treasury and subsequently stated on February 22 that the “donor of the Prize is from now on the Government of Equatorial Guinea.”

In a legal opinion issued on March 2, UNESCO’s legal adviser concluded that the original UNESCO-Obiang prize was “no longer implementable” due to a “material discrepancy” between its stated and actual funding source and that the same would apply to any renamed prize.

Ongoing corruption investigations of members of the Obiang family in France, Spain, and the United States contribute to questions over the legitimacy of the prize’s funding. On March 5, Association Sherpa and Transparency International requested that French judges extend France’s corruption investigation to include the $3 million prize donation.

The government of Equatorial Guinea restricts and controls news so severely that journalists working inside the country are not able to freely report about the corruption allegations or the concerns raised about the prize, so citizens who do not have access to international media lack critical information about how the government is using public funds.

“Even if some delegates disregard UNESCO’s rules and reputation, Director General Bokova has a responsibility to guard against financial improprieties and poor ethical practices by the organization,” Alicante said. “She should stand on principle and refuse to let UNESCO use funds of suspect origin to promote the image of President Obiang.”

The civil society statement was issued by the following organizations:
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España
Association Sherpa
Committee to Protect Journalists
EG Justice
Global Witness
Human Rights Watch
Open Society Justice Initiative

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Equatorial Guinea, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Paris, for Human Rights Watch, Lisa Misol (English, Spanish): +1-646-515-6665(mobile); or
In Paris, for Human Rights Watch, Jean-Marie Fardeau (French, English, Portuguese):+33-6-45-85-24-87 (mobile); or
In Paris, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante (English, French, Spanish): +1-615-479-0207(mobile); or
In Washington, DC, for EG Justice, Joseph Kraus (English, Spanish): +1-202-256-8939(mobile); or

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Massive spray of all insects in Uganda that cause nodding syndrome

Press Release: State House; 06/02/2012

President Yoweri Museveni has reiterated government’s commitment to eradicate the “nodding” disease affecting children in the north of the country.

The President today paid a visit to 25 patients suffering from the nodding disease who are under intensive care and treatment at Mulago Children’s hospital.

The disease is suspected to be caused by the same germs that cause river-blindness.

President Museveni, who consoled the patients and wished them quick recovery, explained that the government’s intervention will include killing all insects responsible for the transmission of the disease by massive spraying as well as treat all people at the same time.

“The government will kill insects by spraying and treat all people at once not treating this one and leave the other. It is better to treat everybody to finish all the germs”, he said.

The President also urged patients to complete the dosage prescribed by the doctors to avoid re-emergence of the disease.

“It is not like HIV/AIDS. This disease is curable. We have the drugs to treat river-blindness,” he noted.

President Museveni, who facilitated Kitgum Women MP, Ms. Beatrice Anywar, to transport the affected children to Mulago Hospital for further management, justified the move, explaining that this would enable doctors carry out further investigations on the disease. 

He added that this would also help doctors find other ways of feeding the affected children as their appetite is completely destroyed by the nodding disease leading to severe malnutrition and death.

According to Professor James Tumwine, who, together with the Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ondoa, received the President at Mulago Hospital, the nodding disease is believed to be caused by the same germ that causes river blindness. 

He said the germs affect the electric flow in the brain and once it becomes abnormal, it leads to a type of epilepsy or nodding disease that destroys the appetite of a child leading to severe malnutrition.