By Davis Joel
Government has earmarked 1.4 billion shillings as emergency funds for boosting the response to the nodding disease syndrome in affected areas of Northern Uganda.
The funds for the emergency phase (March-June 2018) will be realized through internal budget reallocation within the Ministry of Health and any gaps will be met by a request for additional funding from the Ministry of Finance.
The emergency response plan targeting close to 3000 patients was endorsed on Tuesday 20th March at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda at the Office of the Prime Minister.
It was agreed that the medium and long term activities will be planned with the various line sectors.
The Meeting was attended by the Acting Minister of Health, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, who is also the Minister of State for Housing, Minister of State for Planning, David Bahati, Officials from Ministry of health and Gender as well as District Health Officials from the affected districts of Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, Gulu and Omoro.
The Director of Health Services Dr. Henry Mwebesa said a team of officials from the Ministry of health has already met the District technical leadership to agree on the activities, budget implications and the implementation mechanism.
To ensure that the response is visible, all the 3000 patients will be provided with medicines (anticonvulsants) from the treatment centres in addition to provision of food (posho and beans) for four months and non-food items including blankets, bedsheets and mattresses).
Prime Minister Rugunda applauded health workers and local leaders for being at the frontline of treating patients of nodding disease and the communities, amidst constraints.
“We should focus on empowering health workers with more skills so that they can easily reach out to patients even in their homes,” Rugunda said.
The Prime Minister also directed the Ministries of Health and Gender to work together and come up with a joint government program of intervention to address the socio-economic and psychological issues of the affected communities. He added that the Ministry of Health should ascertain the exact number of nodding syndrome patients and also categorize them according to severity of cases.
The meeting also recommended Gulu regional referral hospital to be the focal point and rehabilitation center for handling complicated cases.