Bangladesh is a developing country in Asia with a population of approximately 114 million. There has been no official study undertaken to detect the actual number of people with epilepsy in Bangladesh. Since the government does not have sufficient funds for the health sector it is very difficult to obtain finance for any specified area, such as epilepsy, to do any study or undertake any research. Studies made by the Epilepsy Association of Bangladesh (EAB) assumed the total number of people with epilepsy to be around 1 million.
Most of the population still doesnt know about epilepsy or about available treatment. A pilot study by the EAB showed that 87% of the population still believes epilepsy to be a curse of the gods or something spiritual. Twelve per cent (12%) of the population thinks that epilepsy is the work of evil spirits. Physicians in Bangladesh also need to be trained to deal with this type of prejudice.
People with epilepsy who have received some treatment still face a lot of social problems in their lives. Young children with normal physical and learning ability are also refused entrance by schools because of their occasional seizures. No one wants to employ an adult with epilepsy in any job. To improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy the EAB will also start to educate the family members of persons with epilepsy. For the past 14 years, the EAB has provided on each Friday a clinic free of charge for patients as well as free counseling services for their family members.
The association would now like to create a nationwide awareness program which will also include production of a documentary film by a famous artist, to raise awareness. The aim is to build understanding and acceptance about epilepsy in Bangladesh. The EAB worked hard to increase awareness of epilepsy in Bangladesh but, unfortunately, because of the very low literacy rate in the country the results have been poor to date. It is for this reason that the idea of making a documentary film, to influence the general public, by the famous Bangladeshi actress and actor came about. The EAB already has a media partner who is very interested to help in making the film and for its later transmission. The EAB is now looking for sponsors to make the film and to screen it widely throughout the country.
The project will receive US$5,000 from the Promising Strategies Program.