Two million epilepsy patients in Pakistan await govt attention: Dr Fowzia
KARACHI: More than 2 million epilepsy patients in Pakistan await government attention as lack of facilities and very costly medicines are still a big hurdle to reduce epilepsy burden from our crumbling healthcare sector, said noted neurophysician of the country and president of Epilepsy Foundation of Pakistan Dr Fowzia Siddiqui on the eve of world epilepsy day here Sunday.
She said the world epilepsy day is observed on 11th February to raise awareness about this neurological disease and tell the people how to get treated this disease, besides telling the government which facilities are needed for the epilepsy patients.
Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said the ratio of epilepsy in the world is between 0.5 to 1 percent, but in Pakistan the ratio of this disease is one percent, which is considered very high. However, with proper treatment this disease could be controlled. As per an estimate more than 2 million epilepsy patients are present in Pakistan. Dr Fowzia said the epilepsy is a neurological disease and like other diseases its proper treatment is necessary, because it is a treatable ailment. She said with medication this disease is controlled up to 70 percent. This disease in 95percent cases is not hereditary. These are many types of epilepsy whose correct diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment. Dr Fowzia said during a fit of epilepsy it not beneficial to force the patient to smell a shoe, or slapping him or her on face, or sprinkling water over them and putting a finger in their mouth. The patient in this condition should be laid on one side and it should be tried that no injury is received by him or her. If the fit of epilepsy lasts for more than 3 minutes the patients should be immediately shifted to hospital. If any family has an epilepsy patient they should get complete information about the first aid from their doctors so that emergency situations could be avoided.
Dr Fowzia said that more prevalence of epilepsy in Pakistan is because here more infections are present. TB, typhoid, meningitis fever are some of the major causes of this disease. Head injury, brain infection, sugar and blood pressure and misbalance of electrolytes are the other causes.
Use of alcohol may lead to this disease. This disease may be observed in young age or after 50 years. In children this disease is causes be infection or lack of oxygen. After 50 years of age the main causes of epilepsy are high blood pressure, sugar and brain tumors.
In a sever fit of epilepsy hand and feet of patient go stiff, foam comes out from mouth and sometime urine is passed out. In some cases the affected children go silent which is also called their daydreaming.
Sometimes light trembling in their hands or feet is noticed. They feel a strange pain in abdomen. However, in many cases their mothers do not give much attention to these symptoms, but these symptoms could be dangerous for children. She said a few years back a 19-year pregnant female patient was brought to her who used to fall unconscious due to fits. She said inexperienced doctors declared that these fits were because of epilepsy, and hence her in-laws considered her as a haunted person and they also compelled for opting abortion. Later, they forced her husband to divorce send her back to her parents. She said this girl in fact was not an epilepsy patient, because during pungency such fits are also observed in some cases. She said this girl was very much distressed and later she was counseled and now she attends our programs. She said in another case the in-laws of a boy filed a Khula case of their daughter due to epilepsy.
Dr Fowzia said in Pakistan there is lack of education and no proper treatment facilities available in small towns and villages. Moreover, due to poverty many people avoid costly treatment and instead go to spiritual healers. This is why many epilepsy patients unnecessary suffer a lot. She said steps are necessary to ensure proper treatment of epilepsy in government hospitals.
She demanded opening special wards for epilepsy patients in government hospitals. She also demanded government subsidy for epilepsy hospital so that poor and low income patients could also get the treatment facilities.