More than 30 people are admitted in Amudat hospital with complications that they allegedly developed after eating porridge distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP).
Reports indicate that seven people from two households were rushed to Amudat hospital on Tuesday evening shortly after eating porridge prepared using Super Cereal flour.
The flour was reportedly distributed to the families in Amudat sub county by WFP on Tuesday. Another 28 people were admitted with similar complications by Wednesday evening. Health workers said that all patients presented symptoms of mental disorder after eating the flour.
“Yes, people have developed some mental condition, but we are trying to ascertain what happened. When this food is given, it’s distributed to many families, so we are currently trying to track the families that ate the food. So far, all the patients we have claim that after eating porridge, they slept but woke up in the morning when they were so aggressive, disoriented and confused”, one of the health workers said.
Dorcas Chalain, the Amudat district vice chairperson, says she is surprised with the development since her people have been eating the same porridge for long without any problem.
She said that the incident is a wakeup call for both partners and local leaders to ensure quality and safety of the community in all the interventions. WFP deputy country director Ryan Anderson says they are investigating what could have gone wrong.
“WFP is aware of people being taken sick in Amudat. A WFP team has arrived there and is working with district leaders and health teams to investigate. Food samples have been collected from affected family homes and Alakas health centre and sent for analysis," he said in an email.
Adding that, “We cannot tell at the moment what the problem is exactly and whether it is related to WFP food or nutrition projects or is caused by something else. As a precautionary measure, WFP has advised Alakas health centre to cease distribution of WFP nutrition products. It is our utmost priority to ensure WFP provides safe and nutritious food to all the people we assist in Uganda.”
He explains that the food was meant for expectant and lactating mothers and children aged between 6-59 months. The food is intended mainly to prevent stunting in Karamoja region, where rates are very high.
WFP supports Karamoja communities with food to fight malnutrition among children and adults. The UN agency that has been feeding Karamoja for decades also supports vulnerable communities with food.