Guyana joins world in raising awareness for Int’l Epilepsy Day 2024

– as 50 million worldwide suffer from this chronic non-communicable disease

In observance of World Epilepsy Day 2024 (February 12), the Epilepsy Foundation of Guyana (EFG) has joined healthcare professionals, advocacy groups, and individuals living with epilepsy and their families in Guyana and around the world to raise awareness and understanding of this neurological disorder.
Epilepsy, though often ‘invisible’ if not associated with tonic-clonic or grand mal seizures, has a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain, and it affects people of all ages.
A recent report has stated that about 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Of this number, nearly 80 per cent live in low- and middle-income countries, and do not get the needed treatment.
Further, it is estimated that up to 70 per cent of epilepsy sufferers could live seizure-free if their condition is properly diagnosed and treated.
Research has proven that the risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than for the general population. Also,
in many parts of the world, people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination.

EFG’s annual Epilepsy Awareness Walk held on Saturday in observance of International Epilepsy Day

It is the aim that, by 2031, countries would have increased service coverage for epilepsy by 50 per cent from the current coverage in 2021, as 80 per cent of countries have developed or updated their legislation to promote and protect the human rights of people with epilepsy.
However, key challenges to achieving these epilepsy-specific global targets are the low levels of health literacy and the high levels of misunderstanding and misconceptions about epilepsy. This lack of knowledge translates into social stigma and exclusion, and leads to discrimination of people with epilepsy across all levels of society.
Nevertheless, over the years, the EFG has provided key services to the community of people who live with seizures in Guyana. The organization has collaborated with the UK charity TeleEEG to perform EEGs and to get them interpreted by experts in the UK.
“We are happy to say that this service is now back on stream with upgraded equipment and software. We also partner with ROW Foundation, an international social enterprise, to provide anti-seizure medication for free distribution to persons living with epilepsy,” the EFG has stated.
Over the years, the NGO has brought to Guyana neurologists specialising in epilepsy for medical outreaches, and have held awareness sessions in schools and companies.
“We are now resuscitating our support group for persons living with epilepsy and their caregivers. We have also successfully partnered with the Ministry of Public Health and the Special Education Department of the Ministry of Education,” the EFG has said.
This year, the EFG marks its 10th anniversary, and wishes to thank all those agencies and individuals from whom it has received support over the years, and “to assure them of our continued commitment to the cause of improving how people living with epilepsy are perceived, accepted, and valued; ensuring that they get the best medical treatment and medication available, and that this is done affordably; and helping people with epilepsy/seizures to be able to participate as fully as possible in all life experiences in Guyana”.