A Consultant Neurologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr. Agabi Osigwe has urged Nigerians to desist from linking epilepsy with witchcraft or spiritual occurrences, rather understand it as a disease of the brain that affects people of all ages. Osigwe, who spoke in Lagos at the launch of Samuel Olafemiwa Oladehin Foundation, regretted the misconception and stigmatization surrounding the disorder, saying it discourages People Living With Epilepsy, PWE, from seeking treatment.
He explained that there is no immunity to the disease and that it cannot be contracted through casual contact. “It is not transferable by close personal contact via kissing, hugging, sexual intercourse, etc. It is a non-communicable disease of the brain. Some of the proven causes are brain infections, strokes, brain trauma or tumors. “Globally, about 2.4million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year, nearly 80 percent in low and middle income countries. People with epilepsy respond to treatment approximately 70 percent of the time but about three-fourths do not get the treatment they need.
Osigwe advised that objects should not be forced into the mouths of people with seizures, “This can cause injuries like chipped teeth, punctured gums or broken jaw. Let the seizure run its course and stop. “People with epilepsy have the same range of abilities and intelligence as anyone else. They can get pregnant and give birth to children with no epilepsy,” he explained. On his part, the Executive Director, Samuel Olafemiwa Oladehin Foundation, Mr. Olufemi Oladehin said Foundation was to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Pa Samuel Olafemiwa Oladehin and their sister Olayemi Omobolanle Oladehin who died five years ago from the complications of epilepsy. “This foundation aimed to increase awareness and knowledge of seizure disorders among sufferers and carers. Support research, development and evidence gathering activities for seizure disorders. Create a forum for experience sharing and group support,” he noted.