Legislators Threaten to Ferry Nodding Victims to the USA for Treatment

The division in opinion about the nodding disease among members of the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) continues to injure any meaningful help from reaching the victims.

According to the Member of Parliament for Kilak County, Hon Gilbert Olanya, unless a single position is taken by Acholi legislators, victims will continue to die needlessly without any meaningful intervention from government.

Olanaya threatened to transport some of the affected children to Atlanta in the USA for treatment since the centre has failed to release the findings of their investigations into the nodding epidemic.

He said that their investigation has revealed that a report by the CDC was released into the hands of the government. However, the report has not been made public, keeping the victims in the dark.

“We are getting conflicting figures about the victims of the nodding disease.  The Health Ministry is telling us 3000 children are affected, village health teams are saying that the number stands between 9,000 to 10,000; while the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that it is 7,000m, who we believe,” Olanya stated.

Olanya said that when the Woman MP for Kitgum, Hon Beatrice Anywar, recently visited the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, she asked the medical experts to give her their test results. However, she was told to ask Ministry of Health in Uganda for the results.

“When Hon Anywar requested Uganda government to give her the results released by CDC, she was told verbally, the government of Uganda does not have the results,” Olanya said.

Furthermore, Hon Anywar was told that communications between the government and CDC did not indicate conclusively the cause of the nodding disease syndrome, Olanya noted.

It recently emerged during a meeting in Parliament that it was only Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Woman), Gilbert Olanya (Kilak) and Amos Okot (Agago) that supported the motion by the Serere Woman MP,Alice Alaso, to declare Acholi region a disaster zone.

The rest were undecided, MPs like Lowila Oketayot (Pader Woman), Sarah Lanyero (Lamwo Woman) and the UPDF representatives from Acholi have either not contributed to the debate or walked out when the issue is brought to the floor. Odonga Otto (Aruu) believes that nodding disease can be overcome by providing enough food.

Olanya stated that they will ferry the children to Atlanta if the centre fails to address the issue openly: “Me and Beatrice Anywar we have decided to take 15 children, we are still lobbing for funds from donors to transport the children affected by nodding diseases. We are looking to apply for visas for these children.”

Olanya said that there is also a need to sue the government for neglect of its duty towards its citizens.