We’re continuing work on a 48-country study of health, science and research policies in sub-Saharan Africa. I have to admit that I had not heard of nodding syndrome or nodding disease until I came to review the section on health priorities in Uganda. As The Economist reported this month, it is a seizure disorder that leaves its child victims helpless in a world of hallucinations and convulsions. Treating the spasms does seem to help bring some children back as this April 2013 NPR piece reports. No-one knows what causes it: wartime chemical exposure, parasites and infectious agents have all been advanced as possibilities. The Economist backs a theory that blames an auto-immune reaction to the parasite that causes river blindness.

nodding syndrome