Medical researchers have urged the government to fund new research on the cause of Nodding syndrome which is affecting people in the Acholi sub-region. The primary findings of the investigation being done by pathologists from the University of Toronto Canada and Mulago Hospital have ruled out black flies as a pathogen that causes nodding syndrome.
Nodding syndrome was reported in Northern Uganda in 2009. It is an unexplained neurologic condition characterized by episodes of repetitive dropping forward of the head, often accompanied by other seizure-like activity, such as convulsions or staring spells. According to the research of the Ministry of Health Research, nodding syndrome is associated with river blindness, an infection caused by black flies, and the recent suspected cases were found to be epilepsy.
However, the new research undertaken by pathologists from the University of Toronto Canada and Mulago Hospital disputes past research relating nodding disease to river blindness which is caused by black flies, arguing that river blindness has been affecting people since time immemorial. The new research points out that nodding syndrome is a disease of the brain that damages brain nerve cells to degenerate. It also identifies the deposition of abnormal proteins in the brain.
In ruling out black flies as the cause of Nodding syndrome, Dr. Sylvester Onzivua one of the lead pathologists says black flies are also in other parts of the country like Kasese, but nodding syndrome is not in Kasese. This research points out that nodding syndrome has affected children only born between 1993-2005.
Pathologists believe by identifying particulars of nodding syndrome is a big breakthrough in the long research to discover the cause of the Nodding Syndrome but they are challenged that there is currently no laboratory method certified to diagnose nodding syndrome.
Researchers have decried the poor funding of medical research on nodding syndrome by the government saying epidemiologists require over USD 0.5 million to investigate the actual cause of the nodding syndrome.
Members of the health committee have urged the government to provide funding for not only clinical research on the disease but also providing psychosocial support to victims of nodding syndrome in Kitgum and other parts of Acholi.
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