There are nearly one million Kenyans living with epilepsy, approximately 70% of which lack access to treatment and psychosocial care. The problem is further compounded by myths and misconceptions about the condition. Many people believe that it is a fainting spell, a curse or demon possession caused by witchcraft or punishment from God. Others believe that epilepsy is contagious. The stigma, misinformation, and epilepsy stereotypes often prevent persons living with epilepsy from getting needed care.
Epilepsy is a serious brain disorder that makes one prone to seizures. The risk factors vary from place to place and range from brain infections, accidents, drugs and alcohol abuse, complications arising from home births, and transmissions by pets like cats and dogs. There is an urgent need to increase efforts in epilepsy education and awareness to reach under-served populations and communities and expand access to medical treatment.
Over the past 10 years Youth on the Move (YotM) has reached over 1.2 million Kenyans through its awareness and advocacy programs and provided personal guidance to persons living with epilepsy to access medical care. Despite our efforts, the greatest challenge remains affordability, accessibility and availability (the three As) of anti-epileptic drugs to persons living with epilepsy to enable them access proper diagnosis and psychosocial care.
Since 2008 YotM has collected 95,700 signatures and continues to collect signatures from Kenyans to petition the government for action. YotM believes that the Government of Kenya should provide diagnostic equipment in all public health facilities and subsidize the cost of diagnosis and treatment. YotM hopes that this media engagement organized by NCD Alliance Kenya will help in addressing the plight of persons living with epilepsy.