Epileptic child forced to live in poultry house - My Uganda Updates
HEALTH

Epileptic child forced to live in poultry house

A 10-year-old girl is battling for her life at Lira Regional Referral Hospital where she was admitted on July 18 after reportedly being tortured by her father and stepmother.

Juliet Akello was allegedly locked up in a poultry house for several days and denied access to food and water.
The incident took place in Oyito-leyi Village, Aboke Sub-county in Kole District.

Since her admission to the hospital, the child has remained unconscious.
Morris Akona, the child’s caretaker, said she is improving.

The epileptic child, who lost her mother in 2014, was allegedly locked up in the  poultry house by his father, Mr Tom Anyati.

Akello’s life is reported to have worsened after her father brought in a new wife.
The father and stepmother allegedly tied both the child’s legs and hands around the pillars of the house, which she shared with ducks, rabbits and chickens.

The child was locked in the house for a long period of time and she used to survive on poultry feeds.

The chairperson of Oyito-leyi Village, Mr Douglas Omara, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday that the parents decided to lock up the sick child in the house because they thought that her epileptic condition was contagious and would spread to the children of  the stepmother.

“When I found the child locked in the house, I wrote a letter to the father’s clan leaders but it appears the clan members kept quiet,” Mr Omara said.

The child’s father is a member of the Palamyek clan.
News about Akello’s condition was spread by  18-year-old Joline Ogwang, who had come to the former’s home to buy a rabbit. Ms Ogwang narrated that as she was selecting the rabbit, she heard a strange voice coming from one of the huts.

“I became unsettled because the sound was kind of funny. It sounded like a human voice but on this side, the man was saying it was a dog barking,” she said.

Rescue mission
“So, when he went to get someone to help chase the rabbit, I decided to peep inside the hut and I saw a child crying helplessly,” Ogwang added.

At this point, Ogwang said she took pictures and then ran away. “I couldn’t buy the rabbit because I had never seen someone who is so thin. So, I ran directly to my friend who works with World Vision then and immediately the organisation went to the home, picked up the child and took her to Lira hospital,” she said.

When Daily Monitor visited the child at Lira Regional Referral Hospital, the child’s body was covered in bruises and she looked severely malnourished. 

Ms Irene Akech, a student of Lira University, who has for the last six years been supporting vulnerable people in Lango, said the wounds came about as a result of constant poking by ducks and chicken.

This is because when she was tied, she could not even chase away the birds.
“So, when I went to the hospital, I got that boy (caretaker) and the father. But of course it was sad. I decided to get in touch with the district police commander (DPC) of Lira, Mr Geoffrey Emojong. And on receiving the information, the DPC swung into action,” Ms Akech said.

“The DPC went to the hospital by himself and arrested the child’s father. The suspect was transferred to Aboke, where he was taken to  court and remanded to prison. But the child’s stepmother is still at large,”  Morris Akona, the child’s  half brother, said on Tuesday. 

Ms Akech  said: “The child is getting a little better though she is still on oxygen. She also eats food and supplements with tube feeding.”

She appealed to well-wishers to support the child financially since she is expected to take much longer time at the hospital.

Appeal for help
“Since Lira hospital is a government facility, you find that there are some drugs that are  missing yet the doctors need to use them on the child. Sometimes we are requested to buy from outside,” she said.

Ms Akech added that the local population needs to be educated on mental illnesses, especially epilepsy.
“Some of such cases are known but the members of the community fear to report them to the authorities over fear that the perpetrators could harm them,” she added.

About epilepsy
Epilepsy, according to medical experts is a group of related disorders characterised by a tendency for recurrent seizures. A seizure occurs when a burst of electrical impulses in the brain escape their normal limits. These spread to neighbouring areas and create an uncontrolled storm of electrical activity. There are different types of epilepsy and seizures.

Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures, and surgery may be necessary if medications are ineffective. According to the Epilepsy Foundation based in the US, there are about 180,000 new cases of epilepsy each year across the world. 

In Uganda, there are 156 documented new cases of epilepsy per 100,000 citizens every year, but the number is estimated to be far higher.

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