Nodding disease hinders education in Acholi region

Many pupils in Acholi sub-region have dropped out of school due to the nodding disease syndrome which is tormenting children in the region.

According to leaders of districts in Acholi sub-region, many children suffering from the nodding disease syndrome are unable to go to school while some parents have stopped their children from going to school, fearing that they could contract the illness.

The Pader District Education Officer, Mr Charles Okidi Obole, says the most affected schools are those in Atanga, Lagut, Awer and Angagula sub-counties.

Mr Alfred Akena, the Pader LC5 chairperson, who is also the chairperson of the district’s nodding disease task force, says most of the children suffering from the disease are of school-going age.

“The future of our children is uncertain. Parents have decided to keep their children in their homes for fear that their children might contract the diseases,” Mr Akena says.

He adds that 1,700 children in the district have been affected by the nodding syndrome.

According to Pader education officials, Aruu Primary School which had 200 pupils in the first term, currently has only 95.

The Kitgum District Education Officer, Mr Celest Lamakio Odonga, says there should be mass sensitisation among the teachers about the disease so that when children experience nodding seizure while at school, the teachers can administer first aid to them.

“Due to lack of skills in giving first aid to such children, parents opt to keep their children at home with close supervision. Some teachers also distance themselves when children are attacked thinking that the disease is contagious,” Mr Odonga says.

He adds that by the end of last term, more than 200 pupils in Layam, Akwanga and Amida sub-counties were affected by the nodding disease syndrome.

The National Coordinator for the Nodding Disease Syndrome, Dr Bernard Opar, says the Ministry of Health will soon start sensitising teachers on how to assist children when they experience nodding seizure.

Due to the mental retardation caused by the syndrome, Dr Opar says the Ministry of Education will formulate a special needs programme to address the issue of such children.

By Cissy Makumbi   (email the author)

Posted  Friday, May 18  2012 at  00:00