By: Gail T. Momblan
A MOTHER of a 26-year-old lady from San Jose, Antique isolated her daughter for years. She did not let her child mingle with people, like what most of girls her age do, for she might be subject to ridicule or discrimination.
People from the community might think her daughter’s sudden stiffness and uncontrolled movement is an act of demonic possession, the mother shared.
The stigma from the society prevented the young lady to live a normal life- an issue that still exists in the Philippines.
Hence, the Philippine League Against Epilepsy (PLAE) continues its intensive information dissemination on epilepsy through its 7th national epilepsy camp held in Miag-ao, Iloilo on Sept. 29, 2018.
Epilepsy is caused by the sudden burst of electrical activity within the brain which alters the person’s movement, feeling and consciousness, according to PLAE’s camp module.
PLAE is the country’s response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to give attention to persons with epilepsy, PLAE President Dr. Michael Villaruz said.
Aside from epilepsy awareness, the organization also provides updates and expert opinion on how to cure persons with epilepsy.
“Nandito kami para tanggalin ang stigma, myths, or wrong beliefs at pinapalitan namin ‘yun ng facts. Gusto naming mag-iba ang attitude ng Philippine society towards persons with epilepsy kasi sila yung nadi-discriminate sa school, sa work,” Dr. Villaruz said.
Dr. Leonor Cabral-Lim, PLAE’s former president, explained that epilepsy affects around one million Filipinos. It occurs in all age groups involving the newborn, young children, young adult, adult, and the elderly.
“Lahat ng age pero ang pinaka-peek is children na school age and then adults above 65,” Dr. Cabral-Lim said.
The national camp was attended by an estimated 430 participants comprised of persons with epilepsy and their family members, Barangay Health Workers (BHW), teachers, and students from Western Visayas.
Small group discussions that will further educate the participants were facilitated by moderators to build support groups for persons with epilepsy.
The partakers were taught to get rid of the misconceptions on epilepsy, how to apply first aid to patients, among others.
PLAE Vice President Elizabeth Palines emphasized the importance of the BHW especially in far-flung areas where some cases of epilepsy are still unreported.
“The BHW is in the community. Sila po ang vital link. If they know the community, they can help with the patients,” Dr. Palines said.
A medical doctor himself, Miag-ao municipal mayor Dr. Macario Napulan said the established support group will not only help the patients seek medical treatment but will also inform the government of their situation.
“This support group amo man ang ma-lobby sa local, provincial or national naton nga opisyales nga para mahatagan sang assistance ang ini nga mga pasyente,” Dr. Napulan mentioned.
Running for several years already, rural health physicians are also trained to handle epilepsy cases under the Epilepsy Manager Program of PLAE.
According to Dr. Elma Maraňon, PLAE over-all coordinator in Iloilo, the province is lucky to have trained rural health physicians in Miag-ao, Igbaras, Guimbal, Tubungan, Concepcion, Sara and Batad.
“So ang medyo ang mga malayo dira, wala pamasahe pasyodad, ma-service nila,” Dr. Maraňon stated, noting that neurologists are mostly concentrated in the city.
The 7th national epilepsy camp in Miag-ao was the third epilepsy camp this year, following the camps in Manila and Cebu.