Don’t stigmatise epilepsy patients – Dr Aidoo

Ghanaians have been urged to desist from sub­jecting Persons Living with Epilepsy (PLEs) to all forms of stigmatisation in the community, says the resident psychiatrist at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Rever­end Dr Joseph Kofi Aidoo.

According to him the stigma fur­ther widens the treatment gap of the illness and which left PLEs at risks of developing various forms of injuries due to their uncontrolla­ble seizures.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times, he said that PLEs needed to seek urgent medical attention when they experience repetitive seizures as the illness was treatable.

Epilepsy is a chronic non-com­municable disease of the brain. It is characterised by recurrent seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part of the body (partial) or the entire body (generalised) and are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.

“The disease may have caused a lot of co-mobility such as when they had a fall and hit the head and may have traumas or fractures,” he added.

He called for further education on the illness as a lot of Ghanaians possessed misconstrued infor­mation about the illness and that was further widening the gap of patient’s access to care.

Dr Aidoo called for more epi­lepsy advocates so the world could hear of the success stories of some survivors, whilst eliminating the stigma in the long term.

Also the Director, Institution­al Care Division, Ghana Health Service, Dr Samuel Kaba Akoriyea, revealed that the illness was not transmissible, neither was it the creation of witchcraft.

He further called on all families and PLEs to seek urgent medical care to increase the survival rate from the disease as it could lead to further brain damage and eventu­ally death.

Dr Akoriyea noted that several persons in history had suffered from the illness and gone on to achieve a lot saying that “there are many great leaders and famous people who were epileptic such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Alfred Nobel, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Harriet Tubman but with the necessary family and community support, they developed their capacities and contributed positively to society.”

He hinted that various stake­holders together with the govern­ment were “gradually building the capacity in Ghana and soon our patients will not need to fly out of the country for epilepsy surgery.”

Dr Akoriyea who is also a neuro­surgeon revealed several preventive methods such as “Public health interventions addressing maternal and child health care; immunisa­tions; public sanitation; brain injury prevention, and stroke prevention could reduce a person’s risk of acquiring epilepsy”.


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