By David Odongo
The National Epilepsy Coordination Committee will be holding a free clinic for epilepsy at Uhuru park this Saturday. According to the Necc, about 800,000 Kenyans live with epilepsy and more than 80% of them don’t know that they are sick and as such never get medical attention.
The National Epilepsy Coordination Committee Chairman Professor Peter Kioy said this is because of poor knowledge about epilepsy and awareness on availability of effective treatment in public facilities thus exposing patients to seizures and their attendant consequences unnecessarily.
‘’That is why the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee will hold a two-day public awareness in Nairobi to increase knowledge around epilepsy with the single intention of reducing social stigma associated and increase public awareness’’ said Prof Kioy.
‘’All key stakeholders in the health sector will be involved in this special road show campaign beginning 23 November to move attitudes and reduce stigma associated with epilepsy under the ‘Kifafa ni ugonjwa, mwone daktari’ theme’’ said Prof Kioy during a media conference to inaugurate the campaign.
Speaking during the launch of the awareness campaign, Medical services minister Anyang Nyong’o said that records from his ministry indicate that about 725,000 people have active epilepsy and require treatment but only about 20% of the have access to quality treatment.
“I am also aware that despite the long history of co-existence of epilepsy with mankind, the condition is still shrouded in mystery and the society still associates it with witchcraft, devil possession and other supernatural forces.” Said Nyong’o.
The Road-show will culminate in a Free Medical Camp for Epilepsy at Uhuru Park on 24th November 2012 and will provide the opportunity for interactive sessions involving medical experts and general public.
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Also present at the launch was reigning Miss UoN Bernice Mugambi has been chosen to be the ambassador to The National Epilepsy Coordination Committee to help raise awareness on epilepsy in Kenya.
The twenty one year old beauty queen, who is also epileptic, says she was honored to be the one amongst thousands who won the chance to be the ambassador.
“It is such a noble cause and I will use my title and anything else I have to further the awareness of epileptics in Kenya.” says Mugambi. The beauty queen reveals that when she suffered her first seizures, most people told her that she had evil spirits and she should seek spiritual cleansing to ‘chase the devil away’. Fortunately she went to a doctor who could diagnose that she had epilepsy and prescribed treatment, which still controls her seizures.
“Do not let epilepsy be a reason to stay home and deny yourself education. It would not only take away your chance to get wiser and get more chances in the labor market but it would also take away the chance to interact with your peers. We encourage all members of society to give moral support to people with epilepsy to make use of their right to education, and to be empowered with the knowledge they will gain.” Says Mugambi.
As part of the public awareness campaign, a three day training workshops will be conducted to enhance the capacity of health care workers starting with those working strategic health facilities within the Nairobi City Council.
NECC aims to reverse this situation by involving people with epilepsy and encouraging their participation in the coordination of epilepsy care in the country and ensuring that they participate in the nation’s socio-economic and political development.