By Agnes Nantambi
Children suffering from the nodding syndrome in Pader district have been hit by drug shortage.
The shortage was brought to the notice of researchers from the Makerere University School of Public Health, Butabika Hospital and Gulu University, who visited the district recently.
The visit was aimed at determining the effectiveness of group interpersonal therapy for caregivers of children with the nodding syndrome to improve mental health of both the patients and the caregivers.
Bosco Ochakachon, a member of the village health team of Awilongoi in Atanga sub-county, told the team that caregivers were depressed due to the problem.
“We had two caregivers, who became so depressed, but the introduction of the group interpersonal therapy for caregivers of children with the nodding syndrome programme has helped improve their mental health,” he said.
Ochakachon said the drugs shortage is a big problem even to the village health teams, yet they are expected to monitor and deliver drugs to the patients.
“Nowadays, children take three to four days without getting drugs. We have two children who were taking drugs and they were able to go to school, but right now, one fell down and got serious injury that is likely to cause him a permanent disability and deformity,” he explained.
“I request that the drugs be brought in time and in plenty, so that these children can be treated to prevent depression to their caregivers,” Ochakachon said.
Jennifer Atim said: “God gave me only one child and she is affected. My hope was in the drugs she had been taking, but now she has had a serious relapse as she fell in fire and got burnt.”
Prof. Ssegane Musisi, a senior psychiatric consultant, who led the research team, said many children with the nodding syndrome have seizures and epilepsy.
If not treated, he said, they are likely to have more brain damage, social isolation and may not go to school.
He suggested that drugs like anti-epileptics, anti-depressants and any other treatment of any infection including immunisation which they missed in addition to proper nutrition, can help them grow and become productive in society.
Dan Kimosho, the National Medical Stores spokesperson, however, said leaders of the affected districts have not requested for the drugs. “
Our deliveries always depend on a requisition and for anyone who has not requested for the drugs we cannot deliver,” he said.
Kimosho advised the leaders of the affected areas to put in their orders for quick delivery of the drugs.