The Uganda Police Force, ministry of Health and World Food Program have started investigations to ascertain whether there is a link between the food supplied by WFP and the illness that has so far claimed three lives and left over 200 hospitalised in Napak and Amuda.
This followed reports from the two districts that showed that 262 people had reported abdominal pains, mental confusion, high fever and vomiting after eating Super Cereal a fortified food distributed by the WFP.
Three are now confirmed dead.
Samples of super cereal and water were taken from the affected areas and are currently being analysed at the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory and the Central Public Health Laboratory in Wandegeya.
Sources who preferred anonymity told us that from the local laboratories, the food samples were free from contamination but human samples including vomit showed there was Salmonella.
The minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, told journalists that the food samples have been sent for further examination to a laboratory in Mombasa, Intertek Kenya LTD and another in Johannesburg Intertek Testing Services, S.A. LTD, for further analysis.
“The preliminary results of the government investigation are expected in the next 24 hours. While results from abroad are expected within the next 5 to 7 days,” she said/
The country director WFP El Khidir Daloum revealed that the investigating teams from the ministry of Health and WFP food technologists remain on the ground carrying out surveillance and epidemiological mapping to establish the associated factors and possible causes of this recent illness.
While government has since suspended the distribution of the super cereal, there are fears that a few people could be hiding the food because that is all they have.
“Some are running a way from one Manyatta (homestead) to another. This is failing the collection of the flour from the home of those who already have it,” said John Byabagambi, the minister for Karamoja
Police has since sealed off the warehouse of WFP in Moroto.
Super cereal is also distributed in many countries and has a record of fighting malnutrition and protecting pregnant or nursing women against malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life