We are again neglecting our children, we must rescue our children. They are perishing before our eyes.
It is time to really open our eyes and look around and come to the realisation that there is a difference between seeing and understanding. We have denied what is before our very eyes far too long.
We are losing our children day and night and no amount of self-denial can powder-over the fact that the Nodding disease is here to destroy what was left by the war, our children.
Like the war, the evidence is everywhere before us. We could quote from a bevy of statistics to prove it, but as we previously witnessed, the government and some sections of Uganda will deny that there is a problem, if there is, it is an Acholi problem that must not halt the daily business of Uganda, it is a case of…hear no evil…see no evil…speak no evil…as long as they are kept away from the international lenses of the world, let them die.
So as the situation in northern Uganda worsens, and the government continues to give excuse after excuse; parents are in a state of dilemma, uncertain about whether to isolate their children, since they are unsure of how the disease spreads and medical workers in affected areas are irresolute about what precautionary messages to give to victims.
For a region that has been completely ruined by the over two decades of brutal war, the nodding disease presents a form of bereavement that has come to finish what the war has left behind: the death of Acholi future, which is the children. But for how long will Acholi continue to wait for a national or international response to problems that threaten their entire existence. They tried it with the war and soon realised that there was widespread conspiracy of silence against the genocide in the region, it will equally soon find out that the same conspiracy of silence hasn’t disappeared.
The nodding disease has been around since 2002, when some parents started observing symptoms similar to what is affecting children today. So far, it is estimated that a staggering 600 children have died from the disease and 10,000 have been affected.
As a commentator in one of Uganda’s daily observed “Looking at the agony in the eyes of the nodding children, the helplessness of their parents and the lackadaisical attitude of the Health ministry—a ministry whose mission happens to be “to provide the highest possible level of health services to all people in Uganda through delivery of promotive, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative health services at all levels”--it is easy to forget the vibrant Acholi land described so vividly by Okot p’Bitek in Song of Lawino.”
The government’s interventions, in the form of material and medical support to nodding victims, have been sluggish and largely remain minimal. Despite putting up treatment centres in the affected four districts of Kitgum, Pader, Lamwo and Gulu; parents say that the centres are ill equipped and lack basic facilities including water and food. So the majority of affected children are suffering in silence in their remote homes, most of whom are unable to trek to health centres to pick medications.
Has the Ministry of Health even offered basic guidelines on how parents should take care of their sick children or how teachers and schools can respond to children whenever they are attacked? Parents continue to tie their children on trees as control measures; and yet our parliamentarians refuse to even discuss the matter on the floor of the August House and so opt to walk out because it paints a bad picture over the image of the government.
We seem to have already forgotten that the cost of such negligence is high and there is a heavy price to pay; such ignorance is deeply disturbing.
As patients and parents wait for a successful research that will ensure possible cure or vaccination against nodding disease, Acholi parliamentarians must force the government, as a matter of urgency, into declaring Acholi sub region a disaster area.
WE NEED TO WAKE UP!! WE ARE LOSING OUR CHILDREN VERY FAST!!!
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