Nodding syndrome was first discovered in Tanzania in the 1960s and in the Ugandan districts of Kitgum, Pader, Gulu in the 90s. The involuntary nodding of the head was first noticed during the 20 years of conflict between rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government, when a large part of the Acholi population had been forcefully moved into internally displaced person (IDP) camps.
Here, previously healthy children were observed to nod their heads in a repetitive way, frequently triggered by food or cold weather and followed by their brains stopping to develop and their bodies beginning to deform. There are over 3,000 estimated cases in Northern Uganda.
What does hope look like for families and individuals affected by nodding syndrome? And what is life like for a population that experiences both the trauma of the Lord’s Resistance Army war and the mysterious disease killing their children?