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Saudi Arabia

‘Treat epileptic patients like normal people’

The 7th annual Epilepsy Forum held at the Sofitel hotel in Alkhobar last week highlighted the issues related to the chronic neurological disorder in the presence of physicians, experts and the general public.
Organized by the King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam in collaboration with the Saudi Epilepsy Society (SES), the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), the Saudi Chapter of Epilepsy, and the Commission of Eastern Mediterranean Affairs, the forum provided a platform for a fruitful discussion on the disorder as well as the current research being carried out on its various types.
Commenting on the forum, Dr. Raidah Al-Baradie, chairwoman of the epilepsy forum and an epilepsy consultant at the hospital, explained, “We cover a different theme every year and this time the discussion centered around Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (MTLE), its clinical characteristics and treatment.”
King Fahd Specialist Hospital has recently established a monitoring unit, the first of its kind in the Eastern Province, and has successfully performed surgery on many patients suffering from MTLE.
Moreover, the symposium aims to play a vital role in increasing public awareness about epilepsy so as to inform and educate people about its symptoms and implications as well as exchange the latest research with the community regarding this disorder.
“The second day of the forum focused on reaching out to the public and informing them about epilepsy in a tangible and easily accessible manner,” said Al-Baradie, adding, “A friend of mine, who is incidentally an actor, performed a scientific play for the audience to demonstrate to people that patients with epilepsy can lead normal lives and the stigma attached to the disorder needs to be abandoned. Unfortunately, many people including teachers still discriminate against patients and do not know what epileptic seizures are or how they should be handled.”

One of my main purposes of holding this forum was to bring this discussion to the mainstream so as to educate people here.”
The forum contributes to the global scientific debate and discussion on epilepsy through the exchange of medical expertise and research conducted at the hospital. However, the event’s most essential contribution remains the human message that epileptic patients especially children should be treated normally.
“Epileptic patients should be taught to be independent and involved in social and professional lives. The stigma attached to epilepsy is disheartening and that is what this forum tried to eradicate through education and information,” concluded Al-Baradie.

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