DOH: Compassion not discrimination against persons with epilepsy

From the Department of Health

The Department of Health (DOH) today advised persons with epilepsy (PWEs) to take their medications regularly and have a regular check up to prevent seizures and lead a normal life as the country observes National Epilepsy Awareness Week on September 1-7, 2013.

This year’s theme, Epilepsy ABC: Awareness Begins in Communities (Kaya Natin ‘To!), underscores the need to promote epilepsy awareness and inclusion of PWEs in various levels of engagement like health, education, welfare, and development through community-centered activities.

Secretary of Health Enrique T. Ona revealed that epilepsy is present in around 1% of the global population and may be higher in developing countries.

In study conducted by the National Nutrition and Health Survey that was published in the journal of Neurology in 2003, disclosed that there are 230 persons with epilepsy per 100,000 populations in the Philippines. Epilepsy is the second most common consultation with a neurologist, second to stroke.

Ona added that epilepsy is more common among the very young and the very old, although it can strike individuals of any age. The mortality rate among people with epilepsy is two to three times higher than the general population and the risk of sudden death is 24 times greater.

“People with epilepsy can die of seizures and related-causes, including non-stop seizures, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy [SUDEP], drowning and other accidents,” Ona said, adding that the key to preventing seizures is regular medication and check-up.

Regular medication and check-ups are vital as 20%-30% of PWEs are severely affected and continue to have seizures despite treatment. Lack of knowledge about proper first aid procedures during seizure exposes affected individuals to injury, especially from objects that are needlessly forced into the mouth.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that sometimes results in seizures. These episodes of seizures are caused by a hyperactive and disorganized electrical activity of the brain.

However, more than their medical condition, PWEs are also faced with the non-medical problem of discrimination in education, employment, social acceptance, and extreme poverty.

“Epileptic persons deserve a place in our society. Let us be compassionate of their health conditions,” Ona concluded.