Epileptic people in Burundi face serious problems, says APLE Representative

From ignorance to lack of medicine, epileptic people struggle to live in Burundi society. Jean Pierre Nshimirimana, the legal representative of the Center of Action Against Epilepsy – APLE, says most of Burundians ignore that epilepsy can be treated by modern doctors as the disease is often confused with demonic spirits. “Many epileptic patients consult witchdoctors, others are enclosed in rooms of prayers because they think they have been attacked by demons”.

Jean Pierre Nshimirimana: Epileptic people still face the problems of ignorance and lack of medicine

Jean Pierre Nshimirimana: Epileptic people still face the problems of ignorance and lack of medicine

He says this is one of the problems that they face because epileptic people come to see doctors when the disease is already complicated. “Most of epileptic people consult doctors when the disease has already become complicated.”

Nshimirimana also says there is lack of antiepileptic medicines. “There is a problem of lack of medicine. For instance, the main medicine referred to as depakine is really difficult to get and even when you get it, it is very expensive and most of Burundians can’t afford to buy it”, he says.
Nshimirimana calls on the ministry of health to sensitize people to the danger of epilepsy and to avail antiepileptic medicines. “The ministry should think of outreach programs to sensitize the population to the disease. The Central Purchasing Agency for Essential Drugs of Burundi (CAMEBU) must also import antiepileptic medicines”.

The ministry of health says it has implemented a program since 2004 and plan to assist epileptic people. “We have already begun to assist people in some provinces like Gitega and Ngozi. There is a plan to freely cure epileptic people in the whole country.” says, Innocent Nkurunziza, Director of chronic disease services at the integrated national program for the control of chronic and non-communicable disease at the ministry of health.

Every 12 February since 2000, the world celebrates the International Day of Epilepsy in order to raise awareness of this disease and urge people to help epileptic patients.



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