17 March 2012

Uganda: 'Nodding Disease Is Caused By Spirits'

Photo: Agatha Ayebazibwe/Monitor
Doctors say they are seeing an improvement in the condition of children affected by the disease.


The leader of Ugandan traditional healers, Sylvia Namutebi aka Mama Fina has said nodding disease is not a medical problem, but a spiritual one.

Mama Fina said they [traditional healers] discovered that the disease is caused by spirits and under their umbrella association, Uganda Nedagalalyayo, have asked government to involve them in solving the nodding disease mystery.

The leaders of the associate insist that the disease is a "traditional disease and should be treated traditionally."

The illness has killed over 200 children in northern Uganda and debilitated many more. Doctors continue to scramble to find the actual cause and cure, though it has been closely associated with river blindness.

Maama Fina mid this week met with over 400 traditional healers from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts at Kiboga Paradise Inn in Kiboga town to highlight the possibility of their intervention.

She said government should bring traditionalists on board if the disease is to be fully contained.

"The disease can only be treated by traditional healers. But sometimes, professional doctors do not want to admit where they cannot handle. We shall come in after they have failed," she assured.

Maama Fina also mobilized traditional healers in the two districts to start up income-generating projects in order to eradicate poverty in their households.

She said traditional healers should embrace government interventions against poverty such as the NAADS program and acquiring low interest loans from SACCOS in order to fund the projects.

The government has come up with interventions such as establishment of nodding disease centers in affected districts among others to handle emergencies.

Nodding disease grips children by seizures in which their heads move up and down, somewhat like epileptic patients.

The ailment prevents them from eating properly and many affected children become stunted physically and mentally.

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