The National Epilepsy Association (NEA) Malawi, an organisation that promotes the welfare of people with epilepsy, has called for an end to discrimination against those living with the condition.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday to mark the International Epilepsy Day commemorations, NEA executive director Francina Gondwe observed that people with epilepsy were mostly discriminated against in the workplace and society once their condition is known.
The day, a joint initiative by the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy, was set aside to promote epilepsy awareness in over 130 countries globally.
Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.
Gondwe said according to NEA records, there are about 50 000 people with the condition in the country.
She said: “We didn’t have proper awareness events to mark the day because of Covid-19 restrictions. But the message is that we want to stop discrimination. We have had incidents where some people missed employment opportunities because they disclosed their epileptic condition.
“In communities, some people avoid associating with those with epilepsy, fearing that they might be infected. People should know that this is a non-communicable disease.”
Gondwe also urged people with the condition to ensure strict adherence to medication to ensure they live a healthy life.
“Those in this situation can lead normal and productive lives if they adhere to prescribed medication. So, I urge everyone with this condition to get treatment,” she said.
Meanwhile, NEA national coordinator Chifundo Zamadunga said the organisation has been taking measures to promote the welfare of people with epilepsy in this country.
Among others, she said the institution organised awareness in Mzuzu and Blantyre as part of an international challenge called The 50 Million Steps Campaign.
Said Zamadunga: “We organised big walks in Mzuzu and Blantyre. All we want is to ensure that drugs are always available in hospitals and that those with the condition are receiving proper care.”
The World Health Organisation estimates that 50 million people have epilepsy globally, and the challenge aimed to take one step for each person with the condition.