Nodding disease: Experts embark on new research
Publish Date: Aug 03, 2012
Nodding disease: Experts embark on new research
Health minister Christine Ondoa (L) WHO’s Joaquim Saweka (R)) and DFID’s Daniel Graymore. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
  • mail
  • img

By Pascal Kwesiga  

International and local medical experts have agreed to undertake a fresh comprehensive research study in Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania to gather more information about the mysterious nodding syndrome.

The exact cause of nodding disease is still alien to both international and local medical experts.

 So far, the mysterious disease has claimed the lives of some 200 children in northern Uganda and affected scores of families.

Previous research studies undertaken by international health organizations have failed to establish the actual cause of the nodding syndrome.

It is associated with repetitive head nodding and convulsions.

Experts who have been attending an international scientific conference on nodding disease that ended Thursday this week at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala have resolved to conduct a fresh study to obtain more relevant information.

The data sought after would assist in arriving at concrete conclusions on the actual cause and possible cure of the disease.

The conference was organized by the World Health Organization and was intended to find new response strategies to the disease.

 It was attended by health experts and researchers from Center for Disease Control, UK Department for International Development, UNICEF and global health institutions and universities.

The medical experts unanimously agreed that a multi-disciplinary study must be undertaken in Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania to establish if the disease presents itself with similar symptoms in the three countries.

Peter Spencer, a professor of neurology (School of Medicine) at Oregon Health and Science University in the U.S. said the new comprehensive study would involve examining food , water consumed by the nodding children, education, environment, nutrition and toxins, among others.

In South Sudan and Uganda where the disease is concentrated among children who were raised in internally displaced peoples' camps, Spencer said the researchers would focus on establishing the environment in which they grew up, the food they were fed on, untreated infections, soil and cultural beliefs, among others.

The experts also intend to use the new research to establish the type of the syndrome and whether the syndrome is neurologic, psychiatric or both.

Prof, Seggane Musisi from Makerere University College of Health Sciences said the victims who will be found to be having the neurologic type would be removed from epileptic drugs and a new type of treatment prescribed for them.

"There are many types of nodding disease and no one has ever categorized them. But we hope a new research will answer very many questions," he predicted.

Phillip Gelisse, an expert in epilepsy at the Montepellier University Hospital in France said: "We are here to try to understand the disease. I think the challenge is that no any country outside Africa has suffered from the disease and we are dealing with a new syndrome." 

The experts said the research study would start as soon as funds are provided but could not tell when they expect to get the money.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Why diets don
A healthy food for one person may lead another to gain weight, according to a study out Thursday that suggests a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting is fundamentally wrong....
Drug shields infants from HIV in breastmilk: study
Giving anti-AIDS drugs directly to infants breastfed by their HIV-positive mothers significantly reduces their risk of contracting the killer virus, researchers said....
Antibiotic resistance levels high worldwide: WHO
Antibiotic resistance, which can turn common ailments into killers, has reached dangerous levels globally, the World Health Organization warned Monday, saying widespread misunderstandings about the problem was fuelling the risk....
Alcoholism drug may help design HIV cure
A treatment for alcoholism can reactivate dormant HIV, potentially allowing other drugs to spot and kill the virus hiding out in human immune cells, researchers said Tuesday....
Prostate cancer on the rise in Uganda
Dr Fred Okuku, an oncologist says cases of prostate cancer are on increase and according to the recent statistics 300 to 400 cases are registered annually....
Ebola vaccine trials get underway in Uganda
ARE you aged 1-70 years and in good health, the Makerere University Walter Reed project is looking for volunteers for the trial of an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus...
Is Uganda ready for the pope's visit?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter