Story by: Ebenezer Kofi Amponsah
The epilepsy foundation Ghana(EFGh) has called on Ghanaians to dymystify conditions of epilepsy as untreatable and recognise it as one of the human disorders in the brain that could be managed or treated.
Addressing the media to mark the 2020 epilepsy Day in Accra, a founding member of the epileptic foundation Ghana(EFGh), Mr. Victor Nana Odei said lots of people perceive epileptic conditions as witchcraft and superstitions that are unexplainable and therefore resort to all forms of counselling and treatment.
He said ” the human epileptic condition starts in the brain or central nervous system, that is why epilepsy is considered as a brain disorder but it does not mean the victim is mentally deranged, or that witches have anything to do with it”
He said one major reason why people living with epilepsy refuse to go for treatment is the fear of being stigmatised by society.
The President-elect of the the African Academy of Neurology, Dr. Augustina Charway-Felli for her part also said about 85% of epileptics according to the Ghana Health Service are not on treatment with about 300,000 people living with the condition which translates into about 1% of the Ghanaian population.
She therefore called for an increase in public awareness and education on conditions of epilepsy aimed at bridging the treatment gap.
” Irrespective of the level and positions of people in society, they would have to be educated on the condition. The staff that needs to treat them, the number of facilities that people have to seek health care from, Access to medication, many of them not provided under the NHIS and let’s understand that epilepsy is not genetic.
The Head of the University of Ghana Medical School and neurologist Dr. Albert Akpalu also said Epilepsy treatment should be integrated into the medical treatment in hospitals to enable people living with it have easy access to medication.
This according to him will help increase awareness and given the needed attention like other ailment in Ghana.
Dr. Akpalu said epilepsy could occur in the life of a person at any point in life and therefore not be treated as contagious or a Psychiatric condition.
“Epilepsy is not hereditary, it is mostly caused by acts that affects the head and brain causing a disorderly discharge of the brain cells”.
He further advised people to be cautious when helping victims with seizures not to use objects such as spoons among others in their mouth and ensure that their heads and bodies are placed on soft objects to protect them.
Epilepsy is a group of disorders triggered in the brain. The common characteristic is the tendency for recurrent seizures which may be mild or undetectable for brief moments or more intense with vigorous abnormal shaking for longer periods.
One of the founding members and a convener, Mr. Mike Amon Kwafo, also reiterated the need for public education and awareness by the media, religious bodies against stigmatisation of people living with the condition.
He said “the condition is not witchcraft or superstition as perceived by some people in society, this is happening because people do not understand it. Let’s do our best to advocate for a change. Let it become your priority rather than issues that are not benificial, people are capturing the attention of things that do not benefits society. whether you are incentivised or not, you need to support these people.
International Epilepsy Day for 2020 which is on the theme” Inclusion and friendship is marked on the 10th of February each year to promotes awareness of epilepsy in more than 120 countries.
Every year on the second Monday of February people join together to celebrate and highlight the problems faced by people with epilepsy, their families and carers.
The Day is a joint initiative by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) in fullfilment of sustainable development goal three in providing good health and well being.