Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. It impacts not only the individual patient but also the family and indirectly, the community. More than its physical burden, people living with epilepsy can be targets of prejudice. The discrimination and social stigma around epilepsy worldwide are often more difficult to overcome than the seizures themselves.
Last September 3, 2018, the UP PGH Department of Neurosciences celebrated Epilepsy Awareness Week with the theme, “Serbisyong Tama, Epilepsy at ang Mental Health Act”. The week-long celebration was commenced with ribbon cutting ceremony at the lobby of the Philippine General Hospital. The event was graced by Dr. Josephine Gutierrez, Assistant Chair for Post-graduate training and faculty development; Dr. Leonor Cabral- Lim, chair of the department; Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of PGH.
The same morning, the department held a Lay Forum where physicians from various specialties discussed Epilepsy, its psychological effects, stigma and the Mental Health Act. Winner for the annual SELFIE-lepsy contest (photo contest) was announced during the said event.
On September 5, 2018, the department held a doctor’s forum attended by colleagues from different specializations and institutions. Dr. Maria Angelica Geronimo discussed Acute Symptomatic Seizures while Dr Marc Fernandez discussed Status Epilepticus. Dr. Tanya Gosiengfiao lectured on pre-operative and post- operative care for patients with epilepsy while Dr. Rhea Salonga-Quimpo talked about the Transition clinic for adolescent patients who’ll be transferred to adult neurology’s care. Dr. Cabral- Lim’s talk on the Mental Health Act emphasized the impact of law and legislation in empowering our patients.
The department chair and mother, Dr. Cabral- Lim had a surprise birthday celebration after the symposium.
On September 7, 2018, the residents and students culminated the celebration of Epilepsy Awareness Week by watching “Brain on Fire” which depicted a case of a patient with autoimmune encephalitis and intractable seizures.
The challenges of epilepsy awareness doesn't end with Epilepsy Awareness Week. It doesn't just take an individual but a community to put an end to its stigma.