Stigma and Prejudices

Despite advances in the understanding and treatment of epilepsy within the past several decades, in Ethiopia, public attitude to epilepsy still remains to be superstitious making it a dreaded disease.
A combination of traditional beliefs, poverty, lack of medical care, and inability to fulfill their social roles has a negative impact on the lives of people with epilepsy. Schooling, employment, and status in the community are adversely influenced by uncontrolled epilepsy. In a mild case the condition may be hidden within the immediate family and so does not adversely affect social standing, but in more overt cases there is a major adverse impact. There is a deep-rooted prejudice against epilepsy and many still attribute it to witchcraft, curses, and the revenge of an aggrieved ancestral spirit. These beliefs have resulted in patients with epilepsy being ostracized, stigmatized and misunderstood. The social implications are serious. Suicide or attempted suicide is not uncommon among Ethiopians who suffer from epilepsy.
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