Nodding Syndrome (NS) occurs within a wide spectrum of epilepsies seen in onchocerciasis endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa. It has debilitating consequences on affected individuals and increases the socio-economic, physical and psychological burden on care-givers and their households, diminishing their standing within the community. Social science research on the disproportionate burden of the disease on females is limited. Based on ethnographic research over 3 years in northern Uganda, we explored the burden of being ill and care-giving for persons with NS from a gendered perspective. We found that NS-affected females were at greater risk of physical and psychological abuse, sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigma, in a context of deteriorating socio-economic conditions. Primary care-givers of the NS-affected, mostly women, struggled to make ends meet and were subjected to stigma and abandonment. Targeted interventions, including legal protection for affected females, stigma reduction, and psycho-social and financial support are needed.
- Nodding Syndrome/epidemiology
- Social Stigma