18 April 2019

Uganda: One More Dead, 9 Admitted After Eating UN WFP Porridge in Northern Uganda

Photo: Sheiler Mysorekar/DW
A small boy at the Palorinya refugee camp.

Napak District in northern Uganda has registered another death while nine others are admitted in hospital after consuming porridge that was prepared from Super Cereal Plus blended flour, previously distributed by World Food Program to the health centres.

The death of a six year old girl who was a resident of Lorikita parish, Lots village in Lokopo Sub County occurred on Wednesday morning at Lokopo health centre III, Napak District and now brings the total number to five, of the people who have so far died after consuming the porridge.

Mr Elijah Lobuchel the LC3 chairperson Lokopo, confirmed the incident describing it as unfortunate. He identified the deceased as Marita Imalany, a primary one pupil of Lokopo Primary School in Lokopo Sub County.

Mr Lobuchel said the deceased and nine others who are currently getting treatment at Matany hospital ate the porridge.

According to the LC3 chairperson, the victims got the flour from one of the midwives working at Lokopo health centre III who had kept it, despite several calls by the district and WFP to return the porridge after it turned out to be dangerous to people's health.

Lobuchel says the incident would not have happened if the midwife had not given out the porridge flour.

"She knew very well that this porridge was poisonous and WFP was collecting it, taking it back to their stores but she hid the porridge and now gave it to the people," he said.

Mr Peter Kawunye the health Incharge of Lokopo said the midwife was also a beneficiary of the UN WFP program since she's a pregnant mother.

"She gave it out to the mother of the deceased and the bad part is that the nurse herself never prepared this porridge since she received it," he said.

Mr Joseph Lomonyang the district LCV chairperson said the current hunger in the region has made many families hide the porridge flour even after being asked to return it, making it hard for the district and other agencies to safeguard their lives.

Mr Mohammed Satti the head of UNWFP Karamoja field office said WFP team was on the ground to study the situation.

Last month WFP, the lead agency in fighting hunger in the famine-prone area suspended the distribution of all nutritious porridge flour in the region.

The suspension was after the Agency distributed Super Cereal a fortified blended food to 120 families at Alakas Health Centre II in Amudat District, which turned out to be poisonous.

Families that prepared and ate the porridge developed health complications and were admitted with various symptoms including high fever and mental confusion. Similar cases were also reported in Napak District. Four people died.

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However, WFP resumed distribution of porridge flour last week and it involves the team demonstrating how to prepare the porridge flour before distributing it.

"What we are distributing right now is Super Cereals plus -plus (CSB++) packed in a 1.5kilorgam bag and it was cleared by the ministry of health here in Uganda. It's different from Super Cereal Plus blended which was packed in 25 kilogram bags and caused problems," Satti said.

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