IBE Southern African Countries Consultative Meeting
The above mentioned meeting was held in from 16th – 18 May 2007 in Cape Town. Epilepsy South Africa attended and Uganda, while not in the Southern region, was also present. Due to lack of available funds, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were unable to attend.
The idea of organising the IBE- Southern African Countries consultative meeting arose as a result of correspondence which had been on-going amongst some of the IBE Africam Regional
Committee members in the southern region; namely South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
These countries, through correspondence, felt that it was a good idea once in a while to hold meetings in order to share common interests in the care of people with epilepsy in the Southern region.
The meeting was finally held in May in Cape Town, under the auspices of Epilepsy South Africa. The main objective of the meeting was to discuss how members in the Southern region could collaborate and support each other.
The meeting focused on the following agenda:
- Collaborative meetings
- Southern African Countries support to the epilepsy programme
- Africa epilepsy day
- Common agenda in the human resource development
- Improvement in the communication network in the Southern area
AFRICA REGION MEMBERS ACTIVITIES:
The Gambia epilepsy Association members have embarked on a series of meetings with the government, WHO, and other stake holders and have plans to launch the Global Campaign against Epilepsy Programme early next year.
The Association is also implementing an income generating project with the funds received from IBE Promising Strategy Program.
The Epilepsy Group in Mauritius is doing extremely well. The report sent on 24th April 2007 by the President of the group Youssouf Noormamode indicated that:
- The Edycs Epilepsy Group was to hold a ceremony to lay a foundation stone of the Epilepsy Centre on 4th May 2007. The stone foundation was laid by the Honorable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius.
- Received a donation of a new vehicle from the Prime Minister through the Hon. S. Bappoo, Minister of Social Security.
- Held a Press Conference with the assistance of an epileptologist from Kings College University, London.
- Received donations of seating equipment and toys for four affiliated specialized centers working with children with epilepsy and a bursary from the Ministry of Social Security for an intensive training in social Marketing at the University of Mauritius.
- They have plans to launch Epilepsy CD and the publication of the new manual called Patient education Manual for the epilepsy carers.
Swaziland Epilepsy Association
The Association Chairman Mbuso Mahlalela, reports that the vision of the Association is to create equal opportunities for people living with epilepsy in order to enable them function and achieve their fullest potential in all spheres of their lives.
Some of the activities the Association has embarked on this year are:
- Public education awareness
- Establishment of Satellite groups
- Production of Brainstorm news letter
- Holding of epilepsy discussions in the media during the national epilepsy day.
The Association has the following challenges:
- Stigma – All patients with epilepsy, as in African countries, are perceived as suffering from a mental illness and are only seen in psychiatric units. Since there are very few of these facilities many people with epilepsy in Swaziland do not access proper health care. The community also stigmatizes people with epilepsy; a case was reported in the times of Swaziland of a couple both living with epilepsy who got married and was reported that two mentally challenged people got married and yet both of them were just people living with epilepsy and the husband was actually a teacher by profession and both of them were strong church goers.
- Lack of Medical staff to care for epilepsy patients
- Lack of funds to run the epilepsy programmes effectively
- Lack of rehabilitation facilities for people living with epilepsy
The following are some of the activities the Association embarked on during the year:
- Production of Campaign Song entitled Epilepsy out of the shadows in Zambia/Africa. The Association is soliciting for funds to produce more video and audio CDs which will be distributed to be played on the national TV and Radio stations and some will be sold to raise funds for the GCAE programme.
- Conducted epilepsy clinics in the community.
- Held epilepsy youths leadership workshop.
- Held Epilepsy lectures and symposiums for health.
- Commemorated national epilepsy week/day from 23rd – 29th August 2007.
- Two members of the Association were sponsored by the government to attend the 27th International Epilepsy Congress in Singapore from 8th – 12th July 2007.
The Association received three visitors during the national epilepsy week; one was Dr Zaidi Afawi, who is a coordinator in epilepsy genetic research at Tel Aviv University in Israel and the second visit was from Jacob Mugumbate, Social Worker and Mr. Taurani, a person living with epilepsy, from Zimbabwe Epilepsy Foundation.
The Association has about 500 registered members but only 100 are active.
- Establishment of epilepsy clinic and a rehabilitation centre.
- Rural awareness programme.
- Youth training.
- National Epilepsy week in September.
- Printing and photocopying.
- Street collection.
- Membership fees.
- Golf tournament.
- Shortage of epilepsy medication for members.
- Lack of funds for activities.
The African region is still facing many problems in terms of communication amongst members; with very few sending reports about their activities.
The African Regional Committee will hold a Regional Executive Committee Meeting some time in October in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda was chosen as the venue in order to encourage the development of a new IBE Full Member in that country.
Anthony M. Zimba