Stigmatising Epilepsy patient widens treatment gap— Dr Aidoo hints
Stigmatisation of Persons Living with Epilepsy (PLEs), a chronic non-communicable disease of the brain has widened treatment gap, the resident psychiatrist at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Reverend Dr Joseph Kofi Aidoo has said.
The illness 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.
According to the psychiatrist, PLEs risk of developing various forms of injuries due to their uncontrollable seizures, thus needed support to control their vulnerability rate.
Speaking in an interview with SpotOnNews in Accra yesterday, Dr Aidoo called for further education on the illness, stressing that a lot of Ghanaians possessed misconstrued information about the illness.
That, he said was further widening the gap of patient’s access to care and advised Ghanaians from stigmatising such individuals.
Dr Aidoo called for more epilepsy advocates in order for the world to hear of the success stories of some survivors.
He underscored the need for PLEs to seek urgent medical attention when they experience repetitive seizures, adding that “the illness is treatable.”
“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,” Dr Aidoo said.
Dr Samuel Kaba Akoriyea, the Director, Institutional Care Division, Ghana Health Service revealed that the illness was not transmissible, neither was it the creation of witchcraft.
He therefore admonished 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 greatness through the support they gained.
“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 added.
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.”