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HE director of Mental Health Services in the ministry of health Dorcas Sibanda Tuesday begged for support from well-wishers to assist the government source anti-epilepsy drugs.
This comes at a time the government is struggling to cope with the rise in numbers of epilepsy cases in the country.
At least 9 000 Zimbabweans are accessing treatment against an estimated 130 000 who need treatment.
Sibanda told delegates during the Epilepsy Support Foundation (ESF) news conference held in the capital that the government was unable to cope.
“We have also not been able to support health centres with training in epilepsy management. Anti-epilepsy drugs have not been available in adequate quantities and this is major challenge to our work,” Sibanda said.
Sibanda said the country was in dire need for a resource mobilisation plan which can effectively bankroll epilepsy programmes including the critical shortage of specialised medical personnel to manage the condition.
Currently, according to Sibanda, Zimbabwe has only one neurologist.
She said there was need to develop innovative fund raising initiatives to accelerate medication availability and educational awareness campaigns as these were key in reducing seizure, stigma and discrimination within “our diverse cultures in Zimbabwe”.
However, one Sydney Mukonoweshuro said exorbitant costs and traditional beliefs were a major cause behind patients’ failure to access treatment.
“It’s a very debilitating condition. It’s very sad that in this day people still associate the condition with demons and ancestral spirits,” he said.
Worldwide, around 50 million people are affected by epilepsy, a condition that’s not curable but can be controlled with drugs and other forms of treatment.
More than 80 per cent of epilepsy cases, though, are in the developing world.
Epilepsy manifests itself in different forms, including forgetfulness, abnormal nose bleeding, prolonged menstruation, some forms of meningitis and brain cancer. For some, it’s a lifelong condition.
In Zimbabwe, most cases are in rural areas, according to ESF and the condition becomes more of a danger because the country lacks specialist medical services to diagnose and treat it. source-newzimbabwe