The government has urged people with epilepsy to be confident, fight stigma and empower themselves to make their voices heard.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures due to abnormal synchronized neurological discharges.
Speaking at the belated world epilepsy day commemorations Thursday, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro said people with epilepsy should fight stigma and myths and make their voices heard.
“Don’t let people tell you that you can’t when you know you have nothing holding you back. Don’t doubt yourself, participate more in business, and help the country achieve vision 2030.
“What you produce makes you who you are. Don’t let people underestimate you because of your condition. Chakaipa kumirira kuitirwa nevamwe,” he said.
Speaking to Susan Banda, one of the parents whose child is epileptic said her 10-year-old boy can’t talk and still finds it hard to communicate.
“My son is 10 now and my relatives treat us like outcasts. Some have even said the boy had evil spirits that torment him and it took time for them to understand epilepsy. I’m the mother so I have to understand my child and be able to raise him well,” she said.
Banda also said some of the challenges they face is centralization of epilepsy treatment and cost of medication.
According to the Epilepsy Alliance Africa, the treatment gap in Zimbabwe is 85 percent, meaning most people with epilepsy are not accessing treatment.
Half a million people in Zimbabwe have epilepsy.
Meanwhile, the government also launched a manual for primary care health workers on handling epileptic patients.
International Epilepsy Day is a special event that promotes awareness of epilepsy in more than 130 countries each year.
Every year on the second Monday of February people join together to acknowledge and highlight the problems faced by people with epilepsy, their families, and careers.
WHO estimates 10 million people in Africa have epilepsy and 80 percent are not treated with readily available modern drugs.