At least two people have been confirmed dead and several others hospitalized in critical condition following consumption of suspected to be poisonous porridge said for having distributed by the World Food Program.
Chemkany Stiango, 50 a resident of Chepkwararat village in Karita Sub County, Amudat District was identified by a village chairperson Peter Apamayuwa and another person died on Sunday afternoon as more than 100 people were admitted to Amudat hospital after eating the porridge they received from the food agency.
Stiango is said to have developed complications such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach aches shortly after she was discharged from the health facility.
Apamayuwa said Stiango’s five grandchildren are among 50 people admitted to Karita health center III on Saturday.
“The situation is terrible. By 6 pm on Saturday, UN vehicles and hospital Ambulances were busy ferrying people from various villages in Karita Sub County taking them to Karita health center III,” he said.
Joshua Lokapel, the LCV councilor for Karita Sub County also confirmed the death of one person adding that they are likely to lose more people if the government does not respond with better medical attention in time
Masokoyi Wasswa, the Amudat chief administrative officer said Stiango’s body was taken to Mbale regional hospital for autopsy.
“We are yet to establish the exact cause of her death. I am sure the postmortem report will help us since we have not yet received the samples that were sent to the Government Analytical Laboratory in Kampala,” said Robert Adyama, the Amudat resident district commissioner.
Trouble started last Tuesday when the food agency fighting hunger in Karamoja distributed porridge flour to about 120 households in Alakas village in Amudat District and some parts of Napak District.
However, 30 people who prepared and ate the porridge developed serious complications and they were rushed to Amudat hospital where they were treated and discharged on Thursday.
Among those discharged, three of them were readmitted. About 50 people with similar complications from Napak District were admitted to Lotome health center III in Lotome Sub-county before the number shot up to 107 victims currently admitted to different health facilities.
To address the situation the food agency has suspended food distribution.
Peter Smerdon, the WFP communication Officer based in Nairobi, told this reporter on Saturday that the UN food agency was working with the Ugandan authorities to establish the cause of suspected food poisoning.
“We have decided to suspend distribution of porridge flour in Karamoja until further notice and WFP team of expert are working with Ugandan expert team to get to the root cause of the problem,” he said.
Joseph Lomonyang, the Napak District chairperson, said WFP has been supplying food to Karamoja sub-region over the last 50 years without anyone suffering complications.
“When you look at this food, it’s a donation from Belgium, Burundi, and Turkey through WFP. We don’t know which country among these has sent us this trouble,” he said.
Francis Kiyonga, Amudat District chairperson, blamed the government for failing to inspect foodstuffs supplied by development partners.
He said the incidents in Amudat and Napak districts should be an eye-opener to the government to start inspecting all the foodstuffs that NGOs donate to Ugandans.