The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said identified stigma and discrimination as factors that prevent epilepsy patients from seeking medical treatment.
Adewole said that instead of consulting doctors, relatives often sought unorthodox treatment that is not beneficial to the patient’s recovery.
The minister, who was represented by Dr. Olufemi Fasanmade, said this at the inauguration of the Samuel Olafemiwa Oladehin Foundation, an initiative established to campaign against epilepsy.
Adewole stated, “Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that has a lot of social stigma, and for that reason, quite a number of people who suffer from it will not talk about it. They will hide it until they have seizures in public.”
He listed head injuries, brain surgery and adverse effect of drugs as factors that can predispose individuals to the neurological condition.
“A patient who has undergone a brain operation or an individual who has sustained some injuries during an accident can develop convulsion while some drugs can cause convulsions. Most cases of epilepsy are acquired within the environment hardly is it hereditary.”
Consultant Neurologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr.Agabi Osigwe, said it was unfortunate that many Nigerians still thought that epilepsy was a spiritual problem.
He said, “Epilepsy is believed to be a disease caused by spirits; but truly, it is a disease that occurs in the brain. It is not caused by spirits or gods or witchcraft. Anybody can develop the condition.”
Osigwe stressed that patients should also not be given concoctions whenever they have seizures as this could worsen their condition.
He said, “The first thing to do is to clear the environment a patient lives in, loosen any tight cloth he or she may wearing, take the person to the lateral side, and allow the seizures to take its cause. Do not force anything such as a spoon or oil down the person’s mouth. Just allow the seizure to take its cause which after, you can take the patient to the hospital.”
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of the foundation, Mr. Olufemi Oladehin , said the organisation was established to create awareness and provide the right information about epilepsy.
Oladehin noted that patients would also be able to seek support and counselling to help them overcome the stigma and discrimination associated with the condition.
“We had a sister who was epileptic while she was alive and, in fairness, there were lot of misconceptions about the disease and its treatment. It was quite challenging for us as a family. Considering the level of exposure we have now as the family, we probably would have managed the illness much better.
“Our intention is to use the foundation as a platform for engaging those suffering from the disease and to reduce the level of stigmatisation people with epilepsy suffer.”
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
You must log in to post a comment.