URN.According to the pathologist, since severe cases are among children born between 1995 and 2005, there is need to find out what happened between those 10 years in the affected areas, for more investigation.
Renowned Ugandan pathologist Dr. Silvester Onzivua, has conceded that Uganda alone cannot investigate the cause of nodding syndrome and asked for more support.
Dr. Onzivua, who has been investigating the cause of nodding syndrome since 2012, made the remarks in Kitgum on December 18, 2021, after the LCI of Bongolaku Village, Lamit Parish in Labongo Amida sub county, asked leaders why, despite many samples taken from the area for testing, the community has not yet been given a comprehensive report on the results of the tests.
In April 2014, Ugandan scientists took to the United States brain samples and frozen tissues of children between 12-15 years who had died of nodding syndrome and had developed aggressive behavior, for comprehensive examination.
Results showed that the victims brains had a high concentration of crystal-like material or lesion.
Responding to the parents yesterday, Dr. Onzivua says their postmortem results show that most of the children had severe brain damage, which should have affected elders between the age of 60-70 years.
According to the pathologist, since severe cases are among children born between 1995 and 2005, there is need to find out what happened between those 10 years in the affected areas, for more investigation.
In September 2018, group of six scientists from Uganda and Toronto announced that they had made a breakthrough about nodding syndrome and that it was caused by abnormal deposit of protein in the brains. Then scientists believed that the discovery could facilitate the finding of its cause, as it could open new lines of inquiry that were unavailable before the research.
Now, Dr. Onzivua has says the cause of the nodding syndrome remains unknown, and there is need for the Members of Parliament to drum for more support, so that investigations can continue.
Investigations done in 2013, showed that there is a consistent association between nodding syndrome and onchocerca volvulus infection indicating that the mysterious ailment could be transmitted by blackflies.
Another study titled: “Nodding Syndrome Research Revisited,” which was published by International Journal of Infectious Diseases in March this year still maintains that ochocerca volvulus appears to be a trigger of nodding syndrome and an unknown pathogen transmitted by blackflies could still be a contributing factor.
However, Dr. Onzivua refuted the above findings and wonders why nodding syndrome is not in other areas of Uganda yet onchocerciasis is found in other parts of the country.
He also argues that the signs of onchocerciasis are not present in children with nodding syndrome and yet again wonders why nodding syndrome is only in children, yet onchocerciasis affects both children and adults.
He says results of tests done by the Center for Disease Control in America were not conclusive.
Dr. Onzivua reveals that researchers in Uganda are working with the University of Toronto to investigate the cause of nodding syndrome, but says their capacity is also limited.
He appeals to the families with nodding syndrome to continue supporting them to get samples for more tests and the members of parliament to bring the issue again to the attention of President Museveni, to that it is addressed with more energy.
The member of parliament for Chua West, Okin P.P Ojara says the conclusive results of tests to ascertain the exact cause of nodding disease is long overdue, and parents, children and care takers are tired of waiting.
Okin reiterates that there is need to find out what happened between 1995 and 2005, the period when most cases were registered, saying it could be a fruitful lead.
Santa Okot, the MP for Aruu North, promised to ensure that the matter is reintroduced in parliament, saying the struggle against the mysterious disease had waned.
In February 2018, following government’s persistent failure to release money long approved for the nodding disease crisis, a northern MP Jacob Oulanya who was aso deputy speaker of parliament broke down before a TV camera and said such a government had no justification to exist.
Nodding syndrome is a condition that affects children between 5-15 years. It causes stunting in growth, progressive cognitive dysfunction, degeneration of the nerves and involuntary nodding of the head.