Dur­ing the ple­nary sit­ting on Tues­day 26th March 2019, Hon. Joyce Moriku Ka­ducu, Min­is­ter of State for Pri­mary Health­care pre­sented a state­ment on the sus­pected food poi­son out­break in Na­pak and Amu­dat. Joyce in­formed the House that the Min­istry of Health had on Tues­day 12th March through its sur­veil­lance team on the ground in Karamoja re­ceived an alert about sus­pected food poi­son­ing in that area. Im­me­di­ately, the Min­istry em­barked on car­ry­ing out in­ves­ti­ga­tions on the mat­ter.

On Wednes­day 13th March, 18 peo­ple were ad­mit­ted to Alakas Health Cen­ter in Amu­dat and it was dis­cov­ered they had all con­sumed World Food Pro­gram (WFP) Su­per Ce­real (CSB+). Su­per Ce­real is blended with for­ti­fied mi­cronu­tri­ents which are of­ten used in nu­tri­tion pro­grams to treat and pre­vent mal­nu­tri­tion.

Moriku com­mu­ni­cated that a to­tal of 25 peo­ple have been af­fected be­tween 13th – 23rd March with an on­set of cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem symp­toms (headache, con­fu­sion and al­tered men­tal state), gen­eral body weak­ness, di­ar­rhea, ab­dom­i­nal dis­com­fort, vom­it­ing and fever in Na­pak and Amu­dat dis­tricts. Cur­rently, a to­tal of 265 cases have been re­ported with 188 in Nakpak and 77 in Amu­dat reg­is­ter­ing four (4) deaths, three (3) from Na­pak and one from Amu­dat.

On March 13th, Gov­ern­ment and WFP col­lected Sam­ples of Su­per Ce­real Stocks and wa­ter from the af­fected ar­eas. Sam­ples in­clud­ing blood, vom­i­tus, and urine from pa­tients were also col­lected for analy­sis at the Di­rec­torate of Gov­ern­ment An­a­lyt­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory and the Cen­tral Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­tory. Food sam­ples have fur­ther been sent to a lab­o­ra­tory in Mom­basa, In­tertek Kenya LTD and an­other in Jo­han­nes­burg In­tertek Test­ing Ser­vices, South Africa LTD for fur­ther analy­sis.

Joyce men­tioned that on Fri­day 15 March, WFP work­ing with the Gov­ern­ment or­dered the im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion of Su­per Ce­real dis­tri­b­u­tion in Karamoja and the refugee-host­ing dis­tricts where it’s dis­trib­uted. There is also an on­go­ing cam­paign ad­vis­ing peo­ple not to con­sume Su­per Ce­real un­til fur­ther no­tice and also ad­vised com­mu­ni­ties to ob­serve proper hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion such as boil­ing wa­ter and wash­ing hands with soap.

Ma­jor­ity of the Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment in­clud­ing Hon. Muham­mad Nsereko, Hon. Atiku Bernard, and Hon. Ko­muhangi Mar­gret de­bated on the state­ment. Atiku and Nsereko ex­pressed dis­may on Ugan­da’s de­pen­dency on food stuffs; ar­gu­ing that the coun­try is blessed with a good cli­mate and fer­tile soils that can en­able her grow her own food. Ko­muhangi raised con­cern the lax­ity of the Uganda Na­tional Bu­reau of Stan­dards (UNBS) in ex­e­cut­ing their du­ties. She cited the is­sue of un­known chem­i­cals in flask vac­u­ums that has never been re­solved by the bu­reau. Ko­muhangi sug­gested that Uganda should hold WFP re­spon­si­ble for all the dam­ages caused in the af­fected ar­eas.