Epilepsy awareness in Ibadan, Nigeria

2:36:00 PM

Listening to my translator during the epilepsy awareness gig in Ibadan, Nigeria 

Hey hey Sweetlings,

Doing a quick note from the airport as we wait for our flight to Keffi where I will be speaking at a JCI conference that's bringing together chapters from Northern Nigeria. This post is an update on my visit to Ibadan yesterday where I was the guest speaker at the handing over of community health clinic. 

We left Lagos at around 6.15a to beat traffic and got to Ibadan a few minutes past 8a. We went for breakfast and a few minutes to 10a, we headed out to the event venue, a community clinic, that the Ibadan chapter of JCI Nigeria had renovated. The clinic had been built in 2009 by the local administration but was later shut for years due to negligence. Around 4 months ago, JCI Ibadan took it over, redid the bedding, fixed the doors, installed a water tank and electricity. 

Catching up with JCI Ibadan president before the event began 
When we got to the venue, I had a quick chat with the chapter president who informed me that this was the third clinic in the area that they had renovated. She also mentioned that they had gotten reports on increase in uptake of services in the other clinics they had worked on. As we were speaking, the matron joined in and shared that at the moment they did not have the capacity to take care of people living with mental health conditions and/or epilepsy. A lady with a son living with epilepsy later joined us and explained how costly it was to get medication.

Next to me is the local traditional leader and next to him is the local administration leader and someone from his office

These conversations formed the basis of my talk which took those in attendance through epilepsy definition, causes, triggers and a first aid demonstration. I also emphasised the need for collaboration between the local administration, the health centre, entities like JCI and the members of the community for both prevention and treatment of epilepsy. 

Members of the community 

When going through the causes of epilepsy, I emphasised on the need for pregnant women to utilise the facility for their delivery because lack of enough air during childbirth is among the known causes of epilepsy. Other known causes that I mentioned include lack of proper management of illnesses like meningitis or certain types of hepatitis. Having an operational community health facility makes management of some illnesses easier due to its accessibility and affordability.
Doing epilepsy first aid demonstration 
When engaging the community on epilepsy first aid, I asked if they knew of any tips and someone mentioned that we should let the person sit down when they are removing foam. I responded to this, mentioning that not everyone with epilepsy removes foam, some people urinate on themselves while others just have a blank seizure. Tilting the head to the side and raising it by cushioning would be better than making the person sit as their body is still recovering.

JCI Ibadan president addressing those in attendance 

During her address, the JCI Ibadan president mentioned that they had received some donations in form of medication. Unfortunately, anti epileptics were not on the list, but no vex - seen my Nigerian wanna be vibe there? Thing is, there needs to be a proper care path starting from awareness which was a start point with me being there (shout out to JCI Nigeria and BudgIT for partnering with me on this), when people have information, the right information, then they look for support systems which may include medication but that isn't the case all the time, sometimes it's just a support group meeting or counselling depending on the issue at hand. This was part of my closing remarks as I emphasised on the need for the availability of epilepsy services - information, support groups, medication, other therapies  in community health centres and collaboration between different sectors to make it happen. 

Members of community

As I concluded, I recapped that epilepsy is a medical condition that is manageable. That one should learn their triggers and adhere to their treatment plan and that despite having epilepsy, we are still worthy contributors to our communities and shouldn't be locked up or shut off from community engagement.

Group photo with some of the participants and community leaders
During the question time, the following were some of the community asks - Can one have asthma and epilepsy at the same time? When should one be given medication? How can there be more epilepsy awareness? To which I responded, yes one can have dual diagnosis of different combinations. On meds, most people have a scheduled medication plan which they should stick to. Most of the time people miss out on their meds either due to costs or not being too keen on them especially when their bodies are yet to adjust and suffer from side effects. On more awareness, I mentioned it being a multisectoral agenda where the media, education systems, local government and traditional leaders like seen at the event come through and participate, partnerships with private entities like what I was doing in conjunction with JCI and BudgIT.

With my right hand man in this tour, Nyi - director of programs and projects at JCI Nigeria 

After the session, we drove back to Lagos where Nyi made his signature beans which I had for breakfast this morning on our way to the airport  because I fell asleep before dinner was ready.

Catch you all in Keffi.

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