Parliament has approved a supplementary budget of Shs1.2b to help victims weakened by the mysterious nodding syndrome in Northern Uganda despite Shs73m advanced earlier this year not being unaccounted for. The Sh1.2b will be shared among Kitgum (Shs267m), Lamwo (Shs175m), Oyam (Shs 36m), Pader )(Shs324m) and Amuru districts (Shs 78m). Other benefitting districts and entities are Omoro (Shs 219m), Gulu Referral Hospital (Shs 110m), Gulu District Local Government (Shs78m)and Ministry of Health (Shs 60m). An allocation of Shs199m to the Ministry of Gender was rejected by MPs. The money will be channelled to treatment centres in the districts that have been ravaged by nodding syndrome since 2012. Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah rallied MPs to re-allocate the portion of the Ministry of Gender to treatment, on grounds that the ministry already has money allocated to it “Is it going to be a special assignment of the people working in government or it will be routine? That money should not be there. It does not make sense because the ministries have their vehicles already,” Mr Oulanyah said. The Health Ministry will today table in Parliament guidelines that will be used by districts to spend the money. Since 2012, at least 2,143 children have been diagnosed with nodding syndrome and at least 137 killed, according to government figures. In Omoro District alone, one of the most affected, at least 229 cases of the syndrome were registered in 2012 and 22 children have since died. The plight of nodding syndrome victims was recently aggravated by the withdrawal of Hope for Humans, a charity organisation that was providing medical and personal care, special schooling and nutritious meals to the children affected by the nodding syndrome. The approval of the funding brings to an end a stand-off between the Health Ministry and Parliament that was prompted by denials by the Minister of Health, Ms Jane Ruth Aceng, that the ministry had not recorded since 2012. There have also been cases of rape and drowning of victims of the nodding syndrome.

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