National Centre for Epilepsy, Ecuador
Project: Provision of free medication for people with epilepsy of scarce economic resources
The National Centre for Epilepsy was founded in 1989 and has been a member of IBE since 1991. The centre has a multi-disciplinarian team to treat people with epilepsy; it also has strategies to raise public awareness about the true facts concerning epilepsy. At the present time we look after 8,000 people with epilepsy countrywide.
For 5 years the centre has carried out a program of free medicine for people of scarce resources and who suffer from epilepsy. About 500 people with epilepsy benefit from this program.
In previous years the project received funding from the National Council for Disabilities. However, this funding was not available this year and for this reason we applied to the Promising Strategies Program for support to enable us to continue the project without interruption.
Problem to be addressed
In the developing countries as in Ecuador, only 15 to 20% of the people with epilepsy receive treatment. To a large degree this is due to the poverty. Through this program of free medication, people with epilepsy don’t just receive economic help; the program also serves as a moral support to them and to their families. They understand that they are not alone and abandoned and this helps them to fight against their epilepsy. Also, a positive message somehow reaches the general public.
Although this project is aimed mainly at the poorer sectors, the program will also help to maintain an adequate quantity of medication for people who require help in the short term.
Continuity of this program has not been interrupted during these last five years and in the future we hope to maintain the same strategy – delivery of free medication every three months. In addition to the delivery of medication there are also other actions in place that allow people with epilepsy to educate their family members and society in general about epilepsy.
When people come to receive the medication, they attend pre-planned group meetings. This presents the opportunity to speak with their friends or other people with epilepsy from the Association of Parents of Children with Epilepsy. This helps them to discuss their difficulties with health or education professionals that form part of the support group.
Objectives for the program:
- The provision of free medication for people with epilepsy who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
- Continuity of the program and the possibility to increase the number of people it assists.
- To ensure that poorer people with epilepsy obtain free medication for as long as their economic situation remains unchanged. Some people with epilepsy, once they receive regular medication, find their employment situation improves, allowing them to begin paying for their medication. For others, financial dependency is life long.
- The duration of this project is indefinite and for this reason we will continue looking for alternative financial support.
The effectiveness of the project has been recognized throughout the previous five years:
- There has been a significant improvement in patients: seizures have diminished.
- Improved compliance.
- Better behavior in the school
- Improvement in behavior and cognitive function.
- Increased involvement in the labor market and in society.
- Improvement in self-esteem and in relationship with partners.
- Some people find employment and are able to buy their own medicines.