KARACHI: Over two million people suffer from epilepsy in Pakistan, said neurologists at an event hosted at Karachi University on Wednesday.
The country suffers from under-trained doctors with only one doctor available for 15200 patients, it was maintained.
“Epilepsy is very well treatable with medications (anti-epileptic drugs). The majority of people with epilepsy (PWE) are treated inadequately or inappropriately. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of individuals with epilepsy living in developing countries remain untreated. Around 50 million people are affected with epilepsy around the world,” said Dr Fowzia Siddiqui.
Dr. Siddqui is well-known certified epileptologist and honorary professor of neurophysiology at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and consultant at Aga Khan University Hospital.
She said that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy was one of those serious brain disorders that affected not only the individual but had a deep impact on the family and society in general.
It carries a vicious stigma that in Pakistan has resulted in social isolation and decreased self esteem in otherwise treatable intelligent individuals, she said.
Epilepsy is treatable, she said. “Neurologist should be able to select the best medication depending on the type of epilepsy and also age and sex of the patient,” she said.
She added that the medicines were required to be taken for long-term without any discontinuation.
“Though proper epidemiological studies do not exist for Pakistan, it is estimated that the prevalence of epilepsy is 9.99/1000, which is equal to one per cent of the total population.”
The highest prevalence was seen in people younger than 30 years of age, that is about 2 million people.
“The recent estimates of population of Pakistan exceed 180 million, whereas the total number of trained neurologists in Pakistan is estimated to be 135 (Pakistan Society of Neurology Directory 2013),” she said.
“The majority of people with epilepsy (PWE) are treated inadequately or inappropriately. A survey showed only 27.5 per cent epileptic persons in urban areas and 1.9 per cent in rural areas were treated with AEDs. Another study showed a treatment rate of 38.47 per cent. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of individuals with epilepsy living in developing countries remain untreated. Despite efforts to create awareness there remains a wide treatment gap and misconception.”