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Uganda probes two deaths after shipment of food aid

KAMPALA,

Uganda said Monday it had suspended distribution of a fortified food supplement provided by a UN agency after two people died and scores fell ill.

“Two people have died so far and more than 100 others have been hospitalised in critical condition after consuming the food supplied by the World Food Programme,” Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru told AFP.

“We are working with (the) World Food (Programme) to establish the cause,” he said.

The illness occurred in the northeastern region of Karamoja, after people ate “Super Cereal” provided by the WFP, Ecweru said.

“A big number of those were hospitalised with mental confusion, vomiting (but) have got back to their feet and have been discharged,” he added.

The WFP did not confirm any fatalities but, in a statement dated Saturday, said that it had suspended distribution of the supplement after “scores of people” had fallen ill.

“The government and World Food Programme are investigating and have submitted samples of Super Cereal for laboratory tests,” it said.

“From the outset, WFP has treated this as a matter of extreme urgency.”

Super Cereal is provided by WFP through government health centres and community sites across Karamoja, the agency said.

“It aims to improve nutrition among pregnant or breastfeeding women by preventing stunting or treating life-threating malnutrition,” it said.

The WFP said that on March 12 it had provided Super Cereal, sugar and oil to 120 families in the Amudat district of Karamoja.

The following day, the local hospital reported that nine people had been admitted with symptoms of high fever and mental confusion, it said.

They were diagnosed with food poisoning and were released on March 14 after recovery, the WFP said.

By AFP

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