All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), under the Indian Rural Epilepsy Education and Prevention Programme (IREAP), on Saturday launched Ekatwam — a support group for epileptic people.
The launching of the support group was a part of observing Purple Day, which is celebrated internationally on March 26 every year. The effort is not only targeted at the people suffering with epilepsy, their caregivers and families, but also at the general population to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.
Unlike in the western countries, the concept of support groups for people with common medical problems is still in its infancy. This is especially true for people suffering from epilepsy, who usually avoid disclosing their problem for fear of social stigma. Ekatwam will be an opportunity for them to discuss their problems in daily life and coping up with them.
There are about 10 million people suffering from epilepsy in India, out of which 80% are not getting any treatment for various reasons including poverty. The monthly cost for buying epilepsy medicines varies from an individual to individual; the most inexpensive medicines would cost R300 and the expensive ones can cost about R3,000.
“One of the initiatives under IREAP is to ask people to adopt an epileptic person so as to help them in providing money to buy medicines,” said Dr Manjari Tripathi, associate professor, department of neurology, AIIMS.
About 200 patients with their families turned up at the three-hour celebration-cum-workshop at AIIMS.
Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, with one in every 500 people affected with it. And about 10.5% epileptic people die due to medical aid not reaching them on time and most of them are young bread earners of their families.