BNCDZ commemorates World Epilepsy Day


Gweru- Beat Non Communicable Diseases Zimbabwe Network has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 2024 International Epilepsy Day.

The International Epilepsy Day is a worldwide event dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy, a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

The annual observance also aims at promoting understanding, reduce stigma, and provide support to individuals living with epilepsy and is observed on the second Monday of February each year.

Speaking online in an interview with The Midweek Watch, Beat Non Communicable Diseases Zimbabwe Network( BNCDZ) director, Jacob Ngwenya said despite being one of the world’s oldest known medical conditions, public fear and misunderstanding about epilepsy persist, making many people reluctant to talk about it.

He added that, this year’s commemorations come as the world seeks to dispel the misconceptions which comes with misinformation and disinformation.

“The most common cause of death from epilepsy is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, known as SUDEP. For many people living with epilepsy, the misconceptions and discrimination can be more difficult to overcome than the seizures themselves.

“So we join hands with the epilepsy community in using this International Epilepsy Day to raise awareness of epilepsy and to drive the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s [WHO] 10-year Inter-sectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) on Epilepsy and other Neurological conditions.

“The IGAP is a ten-year roadmap that contains a specific strategic objective to strengthen the public health approach to epilepsy and two global targets aiming to close the major treatment and inclusion gaps for people with epilepsy worldwide.

“We also want to dispel the misinformation on epilepsy, it’s not true that touching a person with epilepsy you contract the disease so we need to educate the community on that,” Ngwenya said.

An epilespy patient in Masvingo, Clemence Mazhambe (48) bemoaned the challenges faced by the epileptic groups in Zimbabwe.

“It is not a walk in the park for me and my fellow compatriots in the face of perennial drug shortages in local public hospitals in Zimbabwe.

“This has forced me to go for some days without either taking medication or unwillingly resorting to reducing dosages or skipping doses without medical supervision from his health care service providers. 

“We are exposed to more seizures despite being aware that every seizure leads to more brain damage and possibly self harm.

“Stigma and discrimination associated with epilepsy which is largely driven by myths and misconceptions is further complicating their already unbearable lives.

“I am appealing to the members of the public to understand that epilepsy is just like any other neurological disorder which has no link to witchcraft or avenging spirits known as ngozi/ingozi in local languages.

“Some people assume that getting in contact with fluids like saliva produced by a person with epilepsy during a seizure will also see them developing the disease as if it is contagious, contrary to those beliefs, epilepsy is not contagious at all.” Mazhambe said.

According to research from health experts, epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures, and it affects people of all ages.

Meanwhile this year’s celebration is running under the theme ‘Milestone in my epilepsy journey’

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