When I was in High School, there was a pretty girl in my Social Studies class who was friendly, smart, and quiet.
There was something unique about her. Occasionally she would convulse uncontrollably and teachers would come into our class and stay by her side until she was back to normal.
This was my first introduction to epilepsy and seizure disorder.
Students did not treat her any differently but we were also not taught about the disorder.
Yesterday on Citi TV’s Breakfast Daily, two mental health nurses from the Maamobi General Hospital, Jessica Owoo and Elizabeth Arkolor, joined us to celebrate World Epilepsy Day.
They shed some light on the discrimination epileptic patients face and how we can all create awareness to end it.
Elizabeth shared how some of her patients have to deal with the myth that they are cursed, isolated and thoroughly avoided by people who claimed that epilepsy was contagious.
The effects of discrimination can be so bad that they lead to some patients committing suicide.
For their part, the mental health unit of the Maamobi General Hospital is treating patients and educating the general public about epilepsy.
The hospital is also pleading with the government to add epilepsy medication to the list of drugs covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in order to allow patients with such disorders to get proper treatment without paying a lot of money at the hospital.
This year, the Mental Health Unit of the Maamobi General Hospital is celebrating the World Epilepsy Day with the theme, “Life is beautiful despite the diagnosis of Epilepsy.”
They are celebrating this day by raising awareness in schools and markets.
While we cannot all visit schools and marketplaces, we can do our best to be a bit more empathetic to people suffering from epilepsy.
If you see someone with epilepsy, don’t move away from them, instead, go near them and try to learn more about the disease and how you can help.
If you hear anyone spreading myths about the disease being a spiritual curse, we should not stay silent but educate them so they do not spread the stigma.
Lastly, let us all try our best to spread love instead of fear.
People suffering from epilepsy have a lot to deal with, let us love, accept, and support them so they feel like a valuable part of this human family.
Happy World Epilepsy Day.
By: Dziffa Ametam | citinewsroom.com | Ghana