•“We put them on medication follow – up plan within subcounty health facilities so that we know where they are and kind of medication they are having so that we feed county governments with that data. This makes the governments, both national and counties to be able to make informed decisions and planning for drugs to those facilities based on demand,” Ngechu said.
Myths and misconceptions surrounding epilepsy has led to a wide treatment gap on the condition in the country, health experts have said.
Kenya Association for Welfare of People with Epilepsy CEO Patrick Ngechu said the treatment gap on epilepsy in Kenya is between 75 and 90 per cent in rural areas.
“Out of ten people, only one person is able to access healthcare. Nine people do not, they instead go to witch doctors, pastors and religious leaders to pray for them,” Ngechu said.
Ngechu spoke during a mass registration drive for people with epilepsy at Muumandu health centre, Machakos County.
The two day exercise was conducted by FAWE in partnership with Machakos County Government and National Council for Persons With Disability.
“Kifafa sio uchawi (Epilepsy is not witchcraft), it is treatable. The only thing one needs to do is come out and go to the nearest health facility for information from healthcare workers,” Ngechu said.
He said people living with epilepsy are stigmatized and discriminated more compared to other forms of disabilities.
“We have come to Machakos to conduct registration of persons with disability, epilepsy is a disability. It is a neurological disorder affecting about 50 million people in the world,” Ngechu said.
He said the latest data indicates that about one million Kenyans have epilepsy.
Ngechu said his organization signed an MoU with Machakos county government and has been doing some interventions in the county.
“Last Saturday we trained principals and head teachers on how to be caregivers for pupils and students in their respective schools and how to inculcate an inclusive society within the school system,” Ngechu said.
“Today, we are here in Machakos Town Constituency to facilitate the registration of people with epilepsy to get a disability card. It is an important card because people with epilepsy have been neglected and they go through a lot of issues,” he said.
He said as players in the industry, they have tried to give epileptic drugs to the less privileged and to sensitize people against discrimination.
“We put them on medication follow-up plan within subcounty health facilities to know where they are and the kind of medication they are having and feed county governments with that data," said Ngechu.
"This makes the governments, both national and counties to be able to make informed decisions and planning for drugs to those facilities based on demand."
Machakos county National Council for Persons With Disability officer Emily Limisi said there were many people with disability in the county who needed to be registered.
“It is on this background that we are doing the registration. The government uses these figures to allocate us funds. Therefore, it means we are allocated little funds yet the figure is more and we have to reach out to the people,” Limisi said.
Limisi said they register all disabilities as per the Persons With Disabilities Act.
County non-communicable diseases coordinator John Ngugi said one would think epilepsy wasn’t common in the community.
“Majority of our clients suffering from the condition are hidden from the public. At times they are left at home due to stigmatization,” Ngugi said.
“Epilepsy isn’t a death sentence. It’s treatable, manageable and even a child can grow to adult and realize potential that he may be having. Those severely sick can also be supported to be comfortable in the society,” he said.