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Uganda struggles to battle cholera, Nodding Syndrome, measles

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  • Uganda struggles to battle cholera, Nodding Syndrome, measles

    Humanitarian Bulletin
    Eastern Africa
    Issue 6 | 11 – 25 May 2012
    Uganda struggles to battle cholera, Nodding Syndrome, measles
    Since the start of 2012, a cumulative total of 3,111 cholera cases with 76 deaths have
    been reported from the 13 districts reporting such cases according to the Ministry of
    Health (MoH). Overall case fatality rate nationally is 2.44 per cent. Recent
    epidemiological analysis indicates that interventions are not achieving effective control,
    with new cases being reported and new areas being affected. Affected districts include:
    Mbale, Bududa, Sironko, and Manafwa in eastern Uganda; Hoima, Buliisa, Kibaale,
    Masindi, Nebbi, Zombo, and Nwoya in the Albertine Rift in western and north-western
    Uganda; and Kasese and Bundibuyo in western Uganda. The majority of new cases were
    reported from Hoima, Kibaale, Nebbi and Buliisa. The affected areas in these districts are
    fishing villages located along Lake Albert that are crowded with many people but with no
    access to safe water and sanitation facilities. According to MoH, all affected districts have
    received case management supplies and visits from MoH technical teams to support
    response efforts. Partners including UNICEF, MSF-France, World Vision and the Uganda
    Red Cross have been key contributors to the response. Following a variety of field
    missions and an in-depth evaluation of the response, MoH and WHO are to devise a
    comprehensive national cholera response plan to mobilise resources to address
    response gaps.
    MoH has meanwhile been faced with a mysterious disease condition named “Nodding
    Syndrome”, being reported in the northern districts of Kitgum, Pader and Lamwo.
    Primarily affecting children between aged 5 to 15 years, the condition was first noticed
    around 2003 in Kitgum district, and is characterized by head nodding, mental retardation
    and stunted growth. Investigations found that the disease was a new type of progressive
    epileptogenic or seizure disorder that to date has affected at least 3,000 children, most of
    whom (93 per cent) live in areas where Onchocerciasis (River Blindness) is prevalent.
    The nodding is sometimes precipitated by food or cold water and is often accompanied by
    seizures or staring spells. During the episodes, the child stops feeding and appears nonresponsive,
    with or without loss of consciousness. There is deterioration of brain function
    (motor, cognitive and psychological ability) in some of the victims, and malnutrition with
    growth retardation in the majority of cases. Children become malnourished and often drop
    out of school. MoH, WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and
    other partners continue to respond based on a multi-sectoral response plan developed in
    February 2012.
    Finally, measles outbreaks have been confirmed from 46 districts with a total of 367
    laboratory confirmed cases. According to the MoH, nationwide mass measles campaign
    targeting children under age 5 is planned for 26-28 May.
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.