Misconceptions, Long Distances Frustrating Epilepsy Treatment in Mityana

2183 Views Mityana, Uganda

In short
Taddeo Nsubuga, a psychiatric clinical officer in charge of Mityana Mental Health Clinic, says Katereggas situation wasnt strange to him as many residents are yet to understand that the epilepsy is a medical condition and resort to traditional healers to exorcise evil spirits with herbal concoctions and rituals.

Although Mityana district health authorities single out epilepsy as the most common chronic disorders among the population, misconception and long distances to hospitals remain a stumbling to the treatment of affected persons. 


12-year-old Tom Kateregga (not real names) has been experiencing the disorder since his early childhood. He was rushed to Mityana General Hospital recently when he convulsed suddenly while riding on a Boda boda. 



He was admitted in the emergency unit where he received first aid. However, to the surprise of the medical workers at the hospital, despite being aware of his medical condition, Kateregga had never received any medical treatment. 


"My mother says that the there are several evil spirits, which caused this situation. Whenever I get seizures there are some local herbs they give me," he told the medics. 



Taddeo Nsubuga, a psychiatric clinical officer in charge of Mityana Mental Health Clinic, says Kateregga's situation wasn't strange to him as many residents are yet to understand that the epilepsy is a medical condition and resort to traditional healers to exorcise  'evil spirits' with herbal concoctions and rituals.

 

He explains that some people think epilepsy is bad or curse to the family while others link it to sorcery, adding that in most cases parents hide children with the disorder to prevent them from associating with others. 


Nsubuga says that besides believing that the condition is caused by witchcraft, many people think epilepsy is a communicable disease.
 

//Cue in: "Some people believe…
Cue out…on treatment."//


 
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where groups of neurons fire randomly and excessively causing seizures, abnormal sensations and loss of consciousness.  


According to Nsubuga, the causes of disorders are not well unknown although several reports point to brain injury, stroke and, birth defects among other conditions.
 
 
He says the disorder is becoming common in Mityana district, saying on average they receive more than 80 patients. Nsubuga however, says that 80 percent of the epileptic patients are brought when they are already in advanced stages having tried traditional medicine in vain. He says epileptic patients can recover if it is diagnosed and treated early enough.
  
//Cue in: "We always tell…
Cue out…now deformed."// 

  
Fred Lwasampijja, the Mityana District Health Officer, says despite the availability of Epilepsy treatment services in Mityana hospital, only a handful of people turn up for treatment as many opt for traditional healers.  He says some people take epilepsy patients to church in hope of a spiritual solution.
 
 
 //Cue in: "because of that…
Cue out…these drugs."//
 

Lwasampijja says about four years ago Namutamba rehabilitation center, a Non-Government Organization used to sensitize the public on the disorder in collaboration with church of Uganda. He however, says the NGO closed shop due to lack of funds and handed over patients to the district.

 
Lwasampijja says the organization was caring for more 450 patients most of them being children collected from different areas in the district and neighboring areas of Gomba, Kassanda, Mpigi and Kiboga districts. 


He however says most of the patients skip medication to the due to their distant location from the hospital.



//Cue in: "we used to…
Cue out…big challenge."//
 

Epidemiology and etiology of epilepsy in sub Saharan Africa survey shows that there is an estimated incidence of 156 cases of epilepsy per 100,000 people each year in Uganda. This means that there are more than 55,491 new cases of epilepsy each year in Uganda basing on the 2014 population. 
 

A 2009 report by World Health Organization-WHO, says there is a treatment gap of more than 95 percent of epilepsy cases in Uganda.