Epilepsy cases in Upper West Region have more than doubled in the last two years and the prevailing trend indicates that the figure is likely to further rise in 2018.
Reports of recorded cases of epilepsy in the Wa Municipality were 27 in 2016 but jumped to 60 in 2017, a situation the Municipal Health Directorate says could grow higher when officials finish compiling the data for the 2018 annual review reports.
“These figures are only cases within the Wa Municipality with the exclusion of the Upper West Regional Hospital because it is the referral centre,” Sylvester Basagnia, the Wa Municipal Mental Health Officer, said.
Though there are many unreported cases, he said his outfit has already recorded several new cases for the first seven months of 2018 but the projected the number is likely to shoot up by the time the data is completely gathered.
Health officials define epilepsy as a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
The officials attributed the causes to brain tumour, chemical imbalance such as low blood sugar or sodium, head injuries, certain toxic chemicals or drugs of abuse, alcohol withdrawal, stroke, including haemorrhage and birth injuries.
Mr Sylvester explained that epilepsy is not a mental health or a psychiatric condition but a neurological disorder that affects the brain.
“It is a serious condition that results in various types of seizures, including conditions such as stroke, brain tumour, head injury, central nervous system infections, or genetics,” he stated.
“In past years, issues of epilepsy have always been hidden as a result of few mental health officers in the field,” Mr Sylvester said, adding that many health officials have been trained and posted to man various centres to address the problem.
He appealed to stakeholders to help the region acquire a brain scan and a machine that can diagnose the disorder to avoid the dangers of transporting patients from Wa to far away Tamale for brain scan.