When you embark on a mission as delicate as advocating and fighting myths and stigma surrounding epilepsy, you are always very honoured when your efforts are recognized.
It was therefore with with utmost pride that we received a request for collaboration in the current journal article of the most renowned Lancet Journal for the Lancet Neurology.
The Lancet was first published in 1823, and is today one of the world’s leading medical journals (for more information see http://www.thelancet.com/lancet/about). The Lancet Neurology is a specialist neurology journal within the Lancet stable. Launched in 2002, it quickly became the foremost clinical neurology journal in the world (for more information see http://www.thelancet.com/laneur/about). Published both online and in print, it provides clinical research articles, news and in-depth features on neurological topics, and this makes us all the more proud to be featured therein barely a year after embarking on our noble but challenging mission.
In this month’s article of the Lancet Neurology, the caption is all solliciting of dire attention: “Plugging epilepsy knowledge gaps in Cameroon”. Kindly take five minutes of your time to read the full article here.
Below are excerpts from the article. It begins by pointing out the alarming statistics of the disease in Cameroon, higlights some misconceptions backed by sample data, and goes on to mention work done on the field by different stakeholders including Gbm:
The prevalence of epilepsy in Cameroon might be the highest in the world. Figures of between 4·9% and 6% are commonly quoted, although values of over 10% have been reported for some areas…Demons, curses, and witchcraft are commonly thought to be the cause of epilepsy in Cameroon. A study of 505 adults among the general population placed witchcraft at the top of the list, with 13% of Muslims and up to 23% of Christians citing it as its origin… A similar study involving 920 secondary school pupils found 26% of the children to believe the same…The same studies also reported 65% of the adult group and 50% of the pupils to believe the disease to be contagious. The methods of transmission cited included waste gas (39% and 15%), saliva (34% and 55%), blood (10% and 36%), and sexual intercourse (10% and 15%) …the Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing (Gbm, Douala, Cameroon) has recently announced publication of its own handbook in October, 2015, this time for teachers. Produced with the help of Cyrille Nkouonlack, Government Neurologist for the South West Region of Cameroon, it aims to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding epilepsy in schools. “An epileptic seizure in school can be a very stressful and stigmatising event in the life of a child”, explains Marie Abanga, Country Director for Gbm.
Gabriel Bebonbechem’s story is our natural baseline, and yet his story could very well be that of any other unfortunate child in the country. Such recognition by the Lancet Neurology is therefore both encouraging, and yet further challenging. We at the Gbm Foundation can therefore not relent our efforts as we strive to intensify efforts to fufill our objectives while forging other national and international partnerships.