Around 200 healthcare professionals from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have gathered to mark the World Day for Epilepsy Awareness. The meeting was organized by neurologists to acknowledge the day and to increase social awareness and medical understanding of epilepsy.
“The World Day for Epilepsy Awareness, held globally every year, highlights the importance of early diagnosis and treatment as well as changing the negative attitudes about epilepsy,” said HMC’s Senior Consultant Neurologist Dr Hassan Al Hail, who is also the President of the Qatar Chapter of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). “Our message to people with epilepsy is not to be afraid to inform their doctor because this condition can be managed with proper medical treatment,” said Dr Al Hail, while cautioning against resorting to non-medical methods saying such treatments ‘may cause harm to the patient’.
According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people are living with epilepsy. In many parts of the world, people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma, which may prevent them from getting the treatment they need.
“In the last decade, a lot of scientific advances have been made in the treatment of epilepsy, but no significant achievements have been made regarding epilepsy stigma,” HMC’s Senior Consultant Neurologist Dr Boulenouar Mesraoua said. He emphasized the role of health professionals in increasing public knowledge and reducing negative attitudes about the condition.
Dr Mesraoua is currently leading a research study funded by the Qatar National Research Fund that explores the non-convulsive form of status epilepticus, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure. WCMC-Q’s Professor of Neurology Dr Basim Uthman said the initiatives, which include a comprehensive epilepsy center, were key aspects of the Neurosciences Institute being delivered in line with strategies of the Academic Health System.
“The institute will foster world-class, evidence-based clinical treatments for various neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative disorders. It will also support research and education that will advance knowledge and improve quality of life for people living with these conditions,” he said.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures that are due to sudden, brief changes in how brain cells function. The condition can be controlled and with the right medical treatment, many people with epilepsy are able to lead normal lives. 70% of epilepsy patients can be treated with anti-epileptic drugs and surgical treatment can be provided where necessary.
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Nada El Hajj