Extending love to epilepsy casualties



MASERU – With the world each February raising epilepsy awareness, Epilepsy Lesotho on Monday this week took time to extend love and raise awareness on neurological illnesses in an event held at Mohlomi Mental Hospital in Maseru. Epilepsy Lesotho is a local association whose main objective is to enhance the quality of life of people with epilepsy.

While reports suggest that there are approximately 10 million people living with epilepsy in Africa, where epilepsy is greatly misunderstood and deeply stigmatized, according to the latest WHO data published in 2018 epilepsy deaths in Lesotho reached 164 or 0.59 percent of total deaths. The age adjusted death rate was estimated at 9.67 per 100 000 of the population, with Lesotho ranked at two(2) with most epilepsy-related deaths in the world.

The Monday event at Mohlomi commenced with a walk themed “50 million steps for 50 million people” – informed by global statistics that there are presently 50 million people affected by epilepsy around the world. The walk, according to Epilepsy Lesotho, is one way of raising awareness and educating people about epilepsy above online education which is their primary way of dispersing epilepsy education in Lesotho.

“We are a non-state organisation low on funds, making social media the cheapest channel to educate people about epilepsy,” said founder and administrator Epilepsy Lesotho, Nthabeleng Hlalele. Epilepsy is considered one of the major brain disorders with the highest prevalence in many areas of Africa. This condition is stigmatized, and there are limited health personnel and facilities for diagnosis and treatment, with data suggesting that nearly 80-85 percent of people with epilepsy have never been diagnosed or treated, according to the WHO.

Hlalele, told Public Eye in interview that government must treat epilepsy as an independent illness so that resources can easily be available as treatment is expensive, and to avoid misdiagnosis which is still one of the major challenges in Lesotho. Hlalele further observed that “there are a few neurologists at government hospitals and that most neurologists found in Lesotho work for private hospitals.

She said statistics are additionally difficult to attain yet a large number of people continue to be misdiagnosed, with children inhibited to education while most adults end up in depression – leading a rising death toll. Hlalele further expressed optimism that as WHO continues to release reports on epilepsy the condition will eventually be declared a public health crisis. Sometimes called a seizure disorder, epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes victims to faint, shiver/shake and lose awareness of what is happening around them; it is not infectious and could affect anyone either through head injury, drug abuse or one could be born with it.

With the stigma that is still rooted in the Basotho culture epilepsy is oftentimes mistaken for witchcraft and the general belief is that people with epilepsy are crazy, this is further proved by the government considering epilepsy as a mental health illness as people with epilepsy are referred to Mohlomi Hospital.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *