Patients suffering from the Nodding disease attend a meeting with Kitgum leaders at Tumangu Treatment Centre in 2022. (PHOTO/TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY)


The government has said it has stepped up surveillance measures to counter possible cross-border infections of the deadly Nodding Syndrome disease.

The Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said while Uganda has been able to successfully contain and manage Nodding Syndrome disease, threats of possible new infections from neighbouring South Sudan are imminent since it shares River Aswa with Uganda.

Speaking during the dissemination of a study by a team of researchers from Makerere School of Public Health in Kampala on Tuesday, Dr Aceng said it is not yet time for Uganda to put its guard down since the battle against the disease is not over.

“We are keeping our eyes very open to the fact that we share River Aswa with South Sudan, and we are very careful to take note that there may be cross-border infection. So, even as we carry out surveillance, we will continue to harvest the flies and check them out for the microfilaria,” she said.

Nodding syndrome is a disease that affects multiple body systems but majorly presents with brain injury and a unique type of severe epilepsy, according to the Health ministry.

Untreated, patients develop multiple complications over time, may become bed-bound, and may die during prolonged convulsions. Early and effective treatment of seizures with daily anti-seizure medications is critical, arrests progression, and may allow patients to live independent lives.


Dr Aceng said the Nodding Syndrome has been well managed since the government has managed to get rid of black flies through the application of larvicides in blackfly-infested areas of the region and the provision of medicine to the population.

“The Madi Okollo foci, which is the largest in northern Uganda and comprises the entire West Nile and the Acholi Sub-region where we have been having the burden of Nodding syndrome, is where we are now carrying out intense surveillance,” Dr Aceng said.

Dr Aceng said the group of children who got brain damage have disabilities that cannot be reversed and need to be supported through rehabilitation centres managed by the Ministry of Gender because they are no longer sick.

“The government has been discussing this issue, and we are hopeful that in the near future, we shall have rehabilitation centres set up for these children to ease the burden on the parents and allow them to go around with the socio-economic activities that earn them money,” Dr Aceng said.

The report stated that administering ivermectin tablets in the population and applying larvicides in breeding sites of black flies caused significant improvement in the conditions of the patients and helped reduce the prevalence of epilepsy.

source: https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/national/govt-on-alert-over-south-sudan-nodding-disease-infections-4649966