Colour of Empowerment

The 'Purple Day' campaign aims to rid epilepsy of its social stigma and help patients 'overcome' the disease.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Published: April 4, 2012 1:48:12 am

The ‘Purple Day’ campaign aims to rid epilepsy of its social stigma and help patients ‘overcome’ the disease.

Five-year-old Lakhubhai got a seizure while he was in his village school one day. He was taken out of school by a teacher and the headmaster. Twelve-year-old Rohit is made to sit alone in school and not allowed to play with others. This has additionally caused him to be disobedient and difficult to manage. Twenty-seven-year-old Sameer,a peon,got a seizure while at work in office. He was dismissed from work the very same day.

Epilepsy affects around 0.8-1 percent of the total population. In India,there are approximately 6-8 million people with epilepsy. Of these,it is estimated that only around 40 percent receive any treatment. “Probably,only 20 percent receive specialised treatment,” says Dr Janak Nathan,in charge of the Purple Day India campaign that is dedicated to spreading awareness about epilepsy and eliminating discrimination.

It is a branch of Purple Day International,which was started by a 9-year-old Canadian girl,Cassidy Megan,and is now sponsored by AKFUS Foundation,USA. Dr Nathan has been appointed as chief coordinator for India and Asia. ‘Purple Day’,which is observed on March 26,endeavours to remove social stigma and help ‘overcome’ epilepsy. Till recently,epilepsy was clubbed with schizophrenia and was even a ground for divorce,says Nathan.

The Purple Day Week was observed with over 150 campaigns all over India. Some programmes included a meeting on ‘Problems in education,employment and marriage in Persons with epilepsy’; the adoption of 1,000 children from lower economic strata in Mumbai; and public awareness programmes by Dr Nandan Yardi,Dr Sudhir Kothari and others in Pune. According to Nathan,on World Health Day (April 7),a public meeting will be held in Mumbai on problems in education,employment and marriage in persons with epilepsy.

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