Having finally landed in Uganda, I can finally start work on my project. On a side note, I would like to just get this out there: 16 consecutive hours spent at 38,000 feet is not fun at all. The temperature here is the complete opposite of LA: hot and humid, as opposed to dry and cold in LA. But it’s definitely worth the change. It was good that I didn’t pack that jacket.
Epilepsy in Uganda is in quite an unfortunate state. While in America and other industrialized nations, epilepsy can be treated (at least the symptoms subdued) with medication, epilepsy in Africa is quite a dangerous disease to have. Epileptic victims are often withdrawn from society for fear that it is contagious. It often leads to a multiple consequences for younger children as parents drop them from school. Sometimes, the ultimate consequence is the abandonment of epileptic children in Butabika (or other mental institutions). The fact that malaria (particularly cerebral malaria) can lead to epilepsy or other neurological deficits invites even more trouble since it is children and the elderly who are most susceptible to cerebral malaria. Because of this, children who have been diagnosed with cerebral malaria are prime victims of epilepsy and the consequences it ensues. Mr. Augustine, the director of the Epilepsy Support Association of Uganda is committed to changing the public’s sentiment of epilepsy and to provide subsidized medication to all those who have epilepsy in Uganda, and I would like to help him out as well.
I talked today with Dr. Opoka, the lead investigator of the study regarding how cerebral malaria can lead to epilepsy, and Mr. Augustine. Both offered warm welcomes and were happy to hear from me. I hope to soon start my work with Dr. Opoka, and add on to his study by means of a questionnaire to ask the parents of the recruited children who had been diagnosed with cerebral malaria their opinions of epilepsy. With the responses from this questionnaire, I hope to see how exposure to Western medicine and a traditional hospital can change their opinions and sentiments of epilepsy. This questionnaire can then help Mr. Austine make a strong case to obtain government funding and additional funding to spread awareness for epilepsy and help those afflicted with epilepsy.