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Uganda marks world Epilepsy day as govt reviews sector policy framework

By Mabonga Darlington

As Uganda joined the International community in celebrating the world Epilepsy day, the sector players want government to increase on the funding package towards this area were patients are quietly suffering from challenges ranging from stigma, acts of gross neglect among communities coupled with difficulty in accessing medicines among so many challenges.

The actors including members of civil society organizations specifically the Epilepsy support Association Uganda [ESAU] wants government to do more by ensuring that the necessary infrastructure for their patients such as access to medicines and other social services are boosted.

The call was last week made during the celebrations which were held at the ministry of health headquarters in Kampala under the theme ‘Epilepsy is beyond seizure’.

The assistant commissioner health services in charge of the mental health division at the health ministry Dr.Hasifa Lukwata told the stakeholders that her ministry appreciates the efforts being made by the Association including fighting for the human rights of mentally challenged persons and specifically organizing this year’s celebrations.

Dr. Lukwata pointed out that her ministry was currently trying to review the entire mental health policy framework to ensure that most of the legal and social concerns  that affect the sector are collected from stakeholders and incorporated into the proposed  new five year strategic policy framework so that parliament can enact them into law.

She noted that government would ensure that medicines for epilepsy patients are delivered at all parish health centers   such that patients within rural communities can be encouraged to visit the facilities for treatment however lamented that some health workers are reportedly subscribing multiple medicines to the patients saying the act had resulted into stock out of medicines.

The program officer world health organization [WHO] Uganda country office in charge of mental health Margret Suubi said her body was concerned about the escalating cases of epilepsy in the country and vowed to continue building and opening up the communication channels with all stakeholders in ensuring that the rights of the people suffering or effected by Epilepsy are not taken for granted but strictly appreciated and embraced by the communities they come from.

Dr. Angelina Mwesige Kakooza who is a neurologist at the Makerere University school of public health [MUSPH] and also the president of International Africa league against Epilepsy said the epilepsy burden had severely hit the regions such as Northern Uganda, West Nile and central Uganda saying locals within those localities need to remember that Epilepsy was a normal health condition like any other illnesses therefore no need to isolate the victims.

She urged locals not to marginalize people with such symptoms but to help them access treatment among nearby health care facilities.

The director of gender in the Buganda ministry of health Margret Suubi said the kingdom would allow the Association members to use their media houses like CBS radio and BBS TV. for purposes of sensitizing communities about the need to peacefully coexist with epilepsy patients and ensure that they understand and appreciate the burden as a condition that can attack anybody.

The executive director ESAU Sarah Nekesa thanked their donors for the tireless support extended to her organization especially during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year leading to the lockdown of the country saying they managed to secure drugs for their patients among the regions of Northern Uganda, West Nile and the central were they were able to drive and deliver the much needed medicines.

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