KARACHI: Epilepsy is very well treatable with medications like anti-epileptic drugs. Estimated two million people are suffering from epilepsy in Pakistan. One neurologist is available for every 15,200 sufferers of epilepsy with only few trained about the disease. The majority of people with epilepsy are treated inadequately or inappropriately. It is estimated that more than 80% of individuals with epilepsy living in developing countries remain untreated. Around 50 million people are affected with the disease around the world.
This information was shared by Dr Fowzia Siddiqui while speaking at the 26th Public Awareness Seminar on Epilepsy, held at the Seminar Room of Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi (UoK). The seminar was jointly organised by Dr. Panjwani Center and Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP).
Dr. Siddqui is well-known certified epileptologist, honorary professor of neurophysiology at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and a faculty and consultant at Aga Khan University Hospital.
She said that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy was one of those serious brain disorders that affected not only the individual but had a deep impact on the family and society in general. It carries a vicious stigma that in Pakistan has resulted in social isolation and decreased self esteem in otherwise treatable intelligent individuals, she said.
Epilepsy is treatable, neurologist would be able to select the best medication depending on the type of epilepsy and also age and sex of the patient, she said, and added that the medicines were required to be taken for long-term without any discontinuation.
“Though proper epidemiological studies do not exist for Pakistan, it is estimated that the prevalence of epilepsy is 9.99/1000, which is equal to one per cent of the total population. Highest prevalence is seen in people younger than 30 years of age. That is about 2 million people and 1/10th of the world burden of epilepsy is in Pakistan. The recent estimates of population of Pakistan exceed 180 million, whereas the total number of trained neurologists in Pakistan is estimated to be 135 (Pakistan Society of Neurology Directory 2013),” she said.
Epilepsy has varied etiologies and affects all age groups, but the vast majority of cases are treatable with Anti Epileptic Drugs (AEDs), most of which are easily available, she said and added that knowledge about epilepsy and its care was extremely low.
She said, “The majority of people with epilepsy (PWE) are treated inadequately or inappropriately. A survey showed only 27.5 per cent epileptic persons in urban areas and 1.9 per cent in rural areas were treated with AEDs. Another study showed a treatment rate of 38.47 per cent. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of individuals with epilepsy living in developing countries remain untreated. Despite efforts to create awareness there remains a wide treatment gap and misconception.”
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