Epileptics face ostracization in Turkey, NGO says

Published 18.06.2015 22:35

A Turkish epilepsy organization has warned the country's estimated 700,000 sufferers of epilepsy - a chronic neurological disorder that can result in seizures - face possible ostracization, depression and even suicide if their condition goes untreated. Now, the Turkish chapter of the International League Against Epilepsy - a professional organization representing those researching the neurological condition - and French pharmaceutical company Sanofi have introduced a photography competition to raise awareness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases. Around 700,000 of those patients are in Turkey.

The photo competition is open to everyone above the age of six. Speaking to the press in Istanbul yesterday, Candan Gürses of Istanbul University said around 2.4 million people worldwide are diagnosed with epilepsy every year. Noting that 30 to 50 people out of 100 were diagnosed with epilepsy in the developed world every year, Gürses said this number has also increased in developing countries. He added that "around 30,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy in Turkey every year."

Approximately 80 percent of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries such as Turkey, according to the WHO, which also said about three-quarters of people living in those states do not receive enough treatment.

Saying that people with epilepsy can live a "normal life" if they can get treatment, Gürses warned: "If the illness is not treated, it might cause a person to feel ostracized, or can lead to depression and suicide."

According to the WHO, people with epilepsy as well as their families suffer from stigma and discrimination in many parts of the world. According to Gürses, the unemployment rate for people with epilepsy is around three times higher than the average population. She added that stigma at schools also negatively affects epileptic children.

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