International Epilepsy Day

Today the world celebrates International Epilepsy Day, it is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of February every year. It continues into National Epilepsy week from 13 February until 19 February.

Using the #StampOutStigma, the campaign is important to raise awareness, identify treatment options, debunk myths and gain knowledge about the disease.

In the workplace and in society as a whole, epilepsy is not easily recognised. The South African National Epilepsy League (SANEL) was established under the Epilepsy SA organisation in 1967. As it stands, it is the only national organisation in South Africa which offers specialised and comprehensive services to people who are affected by epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

With a focus on improving the quality of life for these specific target groups, Hans Matsobane Tjege who is the assistant director from the Gauteng branch at Epilepsy SA gives us more information.

According to Tjege, epilepsy is the most common neurological condition with about one in every 100 people in South Africa diagnosed with epilepsy. He adds that The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 50 million people living with epilepsy worldwide.

When it comes to epilepsy in the workplace there are a number of challenges faced.

“Most people with epilepsy experience discrimination daily simply because they have epilepsy. They are generally experiencing forms abuse such as psychological and emotionally.” he said. Adding that many opt to resign from their jobs while others would get fired from work because of misunderstanding of the condition.

Tjege advises that workplaces need to help in this regard by creating reasonable accommodation for persons with epilepsy in adjustment to a job, the work environment or the way things are usually done during the hiring process.

“It is important to encourage disclosure of disabilities to allow a smooth working environment.” He said.

He advises business owners to contact Epilepsy South Africa to educate employers and employees on epilepsy.



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