According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.
Epilepsy can start at any age, but usually starts either in childhood or in people over 60.
In May 2017, Dr. Collins Bowah, former Nimba County Health Officer (NCHO), raised the alarm over what he calls “prevalence” in Nimba County of this disease when the Ministry of Health provided four (4) months treatment for patients.
Quite astonishingly, data collected at Boyee Clinic, Yarwin Mehnsonnoh Statutory District, Nimba County show that 80 patients (38males & 42-females) between the ages of six to fifty-five years are suffering from the disease.
Unverified information suggests there may be more than 300 people living with Epilepsy in that part of Nimba County.
Many of them either have no access to treatment center or cannot juts afford cost for treatment since the medication itself is so expensive and hard to find.
In early July 2022, Edmund C. Gbarwee a Public Health Practitioner, Founder/CEO of The One Nimba County Media Inc. (Nimba D-9 TV) in collaboration with Nimba County Health Team and a staff in the offices of Nimba District Nine Representative-Rev. Samuel B. Gbarwee Leadership Empowerment Team Liberia (SAMBLET-Liberia), Women Empowerment Forum Liberia (Women-Liberia),Liberia Research Development Networks(LRDN) including some Goodwill Health Ambassadors launched a campaign to combat the disease.
In the midst of flooding rivers, poor road networks, this team of volunteers made it over to Boyee Clinic from Monrovia.
They have since named the campaign “There is Still Hope as way of Helping to Minimize Epilepsy”.
On August 29, 2022, a team of volunteers chaired by Mrs Antoinette Lapue Weh-Johnson, co-chaired by Willie Bee Tingba Jr and supervised by Edmund C. Gbarwee and other consultants launched the Campaign at Boyee Clinic and Zekepa Health Center.
They provided medical supplies including Carbamazepine 200mg 3,000 tabs with expiration date at October 2026 and non-medical supplies like clothes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, slippers, shoes, ect.
Speaking at the event in Boyee, Mr. Gbarwee called on all caregivers to see those who suffer from Epilepsy as “one of them”.
He urged health workers to “treat them well” equally told community dwellers to avoid “stigmatization”.
Said Barwee: “this disease is not communicable and caregivers and community dwellers need to help the patients whenever they have the seizure by putting them in a safe position”
Brooks G. Meleh, Officer in Charge of Boyee Clinic extended thanks to the team and stressed the need for other well-meaning Liberians to see this initiative as one of those of urgent concern.
But OIC Boyee is concerned about the aftermath of the 30 days treatment given patients by the team.
“Our concern now is, after the 30 days treatment provided; we pray to have support from this team again as we await the government to come in because the medication is very expensive”.
Prof. Johnson N. Gwaikolo, Representative of the district who equally contributed to the initiative thanked the team and encouraged members to keep serving their communities.
“To think about your fellow citizens who are not well is something very commendable and we are with you”.
A male and female who spoke on behalf of those suffering from Epilepsy extended their thanks and appreciation to the team for putting smiles on their faces.
“This is the first time for us to have received our medication including gifts and to be treated as human beings too. Many times our friends and relatives don’t want to come around us because of our situation, but for you people to come to us with different types of gifts and even hugging and taking photos with us makes us feel good” one of the beneficiaries said.
Another patient said she would pray for this to continue “and for God to help you all daily”
“Wherever you took these materials and monies from, may God increase them.”