17 September 2017

Ethiopia: Parkinson Another Silent Killer

It is not known when people began being affected by Parkinson disease. There is an assumption that the disease is an age-old one. In 1817, an English physician called Dr.Parkinson referred to it the shaking palsy and made a scientific description about it which was published on science journal. His publication is entitled "Essay on the shaking palsy" . He made the assessment in his own clinic with three patients of Parkinson. Sixty years latter, a French researcher who was called Martin Charket again made assessment similar to Dr Parkinson. When he understood Dr Parkinson's great deed on the field he named the disease after the scientist "Parkinson"

Symptoms of Parkinson are witnessed when "Dopamin" chemical shortage surfaces in our brain. It cannot be detected by blood test but it can be guessed through symptoms such as shakiness, postural instability, sluggish paces, greasy and expressionless faces. Leaning forward from waist upward will happen on patients. Genetic-wise, the transmission method of the disease is very slow not more than 5 percent. It is non-communicable and will affect every individual specially older people.

According to Dr Dereje Assefa, Mental Health Officer in Ministry of Health (MOH) , Parkinson is now getting due attention . It is categorized under neurological disorders disease. But we have no information about how much people are affected by the disease. An assessment was performed two decades back but the outcome could not shade light on the current situation. So, first we have to assess to what extent the disease is affecting the society.

Parkinson is a sever neurological problem and it is a lifelong disease. Its medication is also complicated .

According to Dr .Dereje , gathering information is the first step to solve the problem. But there is lack of information about Parkinson. We are studying things with Parkinson Patient Support Organization, Neurologist, Public Health Officers,Ministry of Health, Experts and others. Down the road,we are discussing to upturn tragic episodes.

Dr Yared Mamushet is a neurologist at Addis Ababa University.He noted that, not enough attention was accorded to the disease but now people who established the Parkinson Patient Support Organization Ethiopia and other stakeholders are bringing it in to the limelight.

Parkinson is a nerve disease so it results in patients' physical flexibility disorder. Most people affected by Parkinson are elders. More often, they lose physical vigor.

Dr Yared further noted Parkinson is prevalent across the nation. At this point in time, the number of nerve specialists are increasing in Ethiopia. Following this the number of people aware about Parkinson disease is increasing. But still there is a lot to be desired we are not working on it. To sensitize people about the disease and its drugs we should play our role. Specially health experts should take special training and make them patients friendly.

The wrong perception of society about the disease is the other challenge necessary to create awareness. The symptoms patients show shaking and unable to flexible their body parts make others stigmatize patients.

Also Parkinson pushes patients to economic problems. Losing their physical agility, patients cannot move their body .As such they are forced to stay at home. Without work, they will be forced to lean on other families.

Psychologically, Parkinson patients suffer depression and irritation. They also recoil from social interaction.

"The Parkinson Patient Support Organization Ethiopia" was established in 2011 by its organizer and Parkinson's patient Kibra Kebede.

As Talemos Deta executive director for the organization said the organization focuses on awareness creation for the society.

Everyday in April the Parkinson day is marked by different tasks. Training for health experts, journalists, for patients and their supporters is given.

Patients are getting drug support from this organization,which in turn gets support from volunteers and other organizations. Talemos also stressed that the organization is facing dearth of drugs for members.

Some international celebrities like John pol, Mohamed Aman and others are affected by Parkinson. Asefa Zegeye is a Parkinson patient and member of Parkinson patient support organization Ethiopia. He said that "Once, I encountered a traffic accident. I was hospitalized. Soon the symptom of this disease became apparent on me. I am affected by Parkinson. I was a teacher. I was forced to stop my job because of this disease. I have not much control over my body and sits down repeatedly. I did make surgery on most of my body parts.

In the meantime, while my wife got dead , I got frustrated and the disease began affecting me. People's stigmatization further affects patients. Now, as I sit idle it is my children who supports me.

The drug is not easily accessible. Most of the time it becomes scarce and when available most patients cannot afford it. Unless I don't use the drug I cannot move as I want. For the future, concerned individual like pharmacists, governmental organizations and other organizations should work on this Asefa Zegeye stressed.

Yared Yigezu procurement prognosis and capacity building Directorate Director in Drug Fund and Supply Agency noted that, there are some bottlenecks in Parkinson drug dispensation and cost. We supply the drug for every state of the nation but sometimes there are ups and down in the drug distribution task. Knowing the actual number of patients is helpful to address the challenge. We are working towards that end.

Relatively, it is not the cost but our economic status that besets the society. So we are working to make it more accessible to patients. Based on this, in the government pharmacies, we are making the society easily get it. The supplying work needs the helping hand of stakeholders and we are doing that to make it fee .

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