The Anidaso Parkinson’s Foundation is worried that stigmatization of people living with Parkinson’s disease is hampering their access to treatment.
Founder, Dr. Vida Obese, observes family members tend to hide affected members from the public.
“Because they are stigmatized, they don’t want to come out for people to know they have this disease so treating them is very difficult.
“That also impacts the support they get from home. Some family members don’t even want others to know somebody in the house has such a disease,” she said.
Speaking at a symposium in Kumasi, she appealed to the government to rope in Parkinson’s medication onto the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“Most of these patients already have diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases they’re already spending money on, so they’re not able to afford the Parkinson’s drugs,” she said.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually sometimes, with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand.
The World Health Organisation identifies Parkinson disease as one of the most common neurologic disorders. It afflicts, approximately, one percent of persons older than 60 years.
About 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease.
Though research is yet to reveal the official prevalence rate in Ghana, it is estimated to be the third leading diagnosed neurological disease.
Age, heredity and environmental factors are all implicated in the causes of Parkinson’s.
The symposium organized by the Anidaso Parkinson’s Foundation brought together primary caregivers in the Ashanti region on how to diagnose and offer treatment early to improve on the quality of life of those suffering from the disease.
“The knowledge on Parkinson’s disease in Ghana is low. Before you move into the communities, we want to start with hospitals.
“We want to make sure our clinicians have the right information about the disease and know how to treat it before we move into the communities,” said Dr. Obese.
A neurologist at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Prof. Stephen Sarfo is urging Parkinson’s patients to adhere to treatment protocols.
“Parkinson’s is a chronic disease and therefore it requires lifelong treatment,” he advised.