March Issue 2018
In Pakistan, epilepsy, which is a medical condition, has unfortunately always been linked to black magic and jinn. It was to dispel these myths that a press conference about epilepsy was held on February 15, at the Najmuddin Auditorium of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) by the NGO-run institution, National Epilepsy Centre (NEC) .
Professor Hasan Aziz, president of the NGO, introduced the Centre as being the sole institution in Pakistan that addresses epilepsy and shared that to date it has treated 9,000 patients, of which 2,000 come to the NEC every month to collect their medicines, which are heavily subsidised.
Dr Zarine Mogal explained the holistic disease management model being followed at the NEC, where she works. She said that the NGO looks at the patient from a medical, social and psychological aspect, and that follow-ups are carried out for all patients.
Nadia Jamil, well-known theatre and TV actor, who is the new face of the NEC, spoke at the event, highlighting the facilities at the Centre and giving the audience an insight into epilepsy, including her own battle with the disease. She was diagnosed in 2011 and since then, thanks to receiving proper medical treatment and support, is leading a full life.
An inspirational speaker, Nadia stressed how imperative it is to break taboos about epilepsy in our society. She highlighted the fact that although people get scared when they see someone having seizures or an epileptic fit, there is nothing to be frightened of. However, she said it was important to be aware of what triggers the seizures, listing her own triggers as lack of sleep and exhaustion.
She pointed out that, “It’s not the disease that’s the problem, it’s the fear and illiteracy and lack of understanding that are the biggest issues when talking about epilepsy. Children and adults who suffer from the condition must be empowered to recognise the symptoms and how best to deal with it.” Another major problem she said, is that men don’t admit to suffering from this affliction, considering it ‘un-masculine.’ Nadia exhorted all those suffering from epilepsy to get treatment and live their lives fully. The celebrity stressed upon the critical role the print, electronic and social media can play in spreading awareness about the disease.
A documentary highlighting the NEC’s work was shown featuring celebrities who have supported the cause, such as Shahid Afridi, Moin Khan, and the late Abdul Sattar Edhi. Edhi was an epileptic himself but that never hampered his work. He was always on the go…