Mapping of Prevalence of Nodding Syndrome and Associated Epilepsy Reporting in Uganda: Spatial–Temporal Approach

Article Authors: Kizito Ongaya, Paul Ssemaluulu, Benedict Oyo, Gilbert Maiga


In recent years, transmission of diseases has exhibited new spatial and temporal patterns. Emerging diseases are being discovered more often. Some have unknown transmission patterns and mechanisms for diagnosis. This results to numerous hypothetical postulations just as in the case of nodding syndrome which has affected thousands of children in Uganda. Spatial-temporal analysis may provide a quick mechanism to establish comparative understanding of the various hypotheses ascribed to an emerging disease. This situation, is particularly seen in nodding syndrome where there is considerable suspicion that nodding syndrome is a form of epilepsy. Little literature is available on spatial-temporal comparison between incidences of these two ailments. The aim of this paper is to establish spatial-temporal relationships between ailments diagnosed as nodding syndrome and ailments diagnosed as epilepsy. We carried out an exploratory survey in three districts of Northern Uganda. Spatial data of health centres were recorded and ArcGIS was used for display. Our findings established that, there was significant spatialtemporal relationship of diagnosis reporting of nodding syndrome and epilepsy. The study concludes that the surveillance mechanisms for nodding syndrome established in 2012 are effective. At the same time, the study affirms that in the event of occurrence of an emerging disease, when there is no established clinical diagnosis, geographical information systems approach is an effective alternative investigation mechanism to establish relationships between hypothetically similar outbreaks.

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