Wednesday, February 18, 2009


On Monday I accompanied Kenneth, a representative of a Civil Society Organisation called CODEF on a visit to two people with epilepsy at Bafut. The first, Elizabeth, was sitting outside looking lifeless. She was wearing nothing on her top, and she had a recent, seemingly untreated burn wound on her right arm and shoulder. She had apparently had no medical treatment after falling in the fire, while having a fit, as she had on previous occasions. She had fallen into the open wood fire which is in the centre of the room, on this occasion when her widowed mother was out working in the fields.

The second epilepsy sufferer I visited was Evon, a young mother with twins of a year old. Sadly, she has not breastfed them, on advice from her mother, who fears that the epilepsy will be transmitted to the infants through their mother's milk. As a result the children are clearly malnourished.

I also had the opportunity of meeting a team of volunteers in the Bafut area, including the Deputy Mayor of Bafut, who have taken part in a survey of epilepsy in the region, recording some thousand names. The volunteers visit both the sufferers and their carers. Frequently people with epilepsy are socially isolated, and there , I'm sorry to say, a popular opinion that their health condition is caused by evil spirits. CODEF is trying to overcome this perception.
Epilepsy is not seen as a priority here, in the way that HIV / AIDS is. There is simply no provision. Even where drugs are prescribed (the only such drug seems to be phenobarbitone), they are not taken, because of the high costs, particularly in this poor area, which relies on subsistence farming.

You'll gather that I have been much moved by what I have seen and heard, and I am determined to do what I can on the personal level. so that the work of CODEF can continue and be expanded. A small sum goes a long way in an area like this.
On a lighter note I'll attach some recent images!


sec said...

This is a very interesting insight. As you say, I was aware of the high profile health problems such as HIV/AIDs but not of the particular difficulties of people with conditions like epilepsy. I suppose because in the UK treatment is readily available and most people are quite well-informed about it. It's terrible to think of people enduring this when it would be so simple to remedy.

ma pulses said...

The artificiality of Esperanto makes me to write like that