Nodding Disease, Joseph Kony, and the Children of Northern Uganda

First published on Social Media Chimps


In March 2012, American filmmakers brought the world to northern Uganda in search of a warlord named Joseph Kony. One month later, Ugandan doctors and journalists are scrambling to broadcast a revised global message: Mr. Kony is gone, and nodding disease now poses the largest threat to the region’s children. So far, this second message has failed to generate the same level of worldwide buzz as the first.

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The real battle in Uganda


12 year old Nancy Lamwaka a victim of the 'nodding disease'. Photo credit: Reuters/Edward Echwalu

While the rest of the world jumps onto the Kony2012 bandwagon — wrongly assuming that the main problem in Uganda is the Lord’s Resistance Army — Ugandans are worrying about the much more urgent problem plaguing their country: nodding disease.

The cause of the disease is unknown. It affects thousands of children in Northern Uganda, causing symptoms similar to epilepsy, but with more severe mental and physical retardation. (The photo above shows 12-year-old Nancy Lamwaka, a victim of the disease.) Yet the Ugandan government has been notably slow to deal with the problem.

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