Malawi condemns stigma attached to epileptic persons

Malawi’s National Epilepsy Association has  expressed concern over beliefs traced from some quarters of the society suggesting that epilepsy stems from demonic possession, saying this was hindering epileptics from accessing proper medical care.

This was disclosed Saturday during the commemoration of National Epilepsy Day held under the theme ‘Taking epilepsy out of the shadows, stop stigma and discrimination’ at Mpingu primaryschool ground Lilongwe.

Chairperson for National Epilepsy Association, McPherson Malewa said there was need for more awareness about the ailment so that people know what Epilepsywass, its cause and treatment.

Daudi: Treatment will be available all times

“Most people don’t understand Epilepsy. People associate the disease with witchcraft and think that the person is demonically possessed or is influenced by evil, which is not true. Modern science has proved that Epilepsy is a physical sickness and can be controlled by drugs” said Malewa.

He observed there was need to introduce health education in the country’s primary schools so they can well understand the disease and know how to give first aid to an epileptic patient.

Deputy Minister of Health, Halima Daudi who graced the occasion said she was aware of the challenges affecting epileptic care in the country including erratic supply of drugs and lack of policies, among others.

“Currently, both treatment and social guidelines for epilepsy are being drafted. These guidelines aim at improving the medical and social care provided to individuals with epilepsy at all levels.

“Government will also continue its efforts in providing treatment and all necessary supplies and we look forward to a future where stock out of anti-epileptic drugs will be history,” said Daudi.

She advised the parents and guardians whose children suffered from epilepsy not to lock them up but take them for medical care and to enroll them into school.

Daudi also warned teachers against turning away from school any child who was epileptic saying doing so was tantamount to violation of people rights.

The commemoration was also attended to by the Member of Parliament for the area, Jean Sendeza, Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) and Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), among others. Traditional dances spiced up the event.

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