THE Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance is concerned with revelations that some women are giving alcohol to babies as young as three months as a preventive measure against epilepsy.
Alliance country coordinator Mathews Mhuru said engagement with some women in Lusaka had revealed that some mothers had been encouraging each other to give their babies sips of alcohol particularly lagers as a preventive measure against epilepsy, resulting in some shunning seeking treatment.
“This calls for serious community level engagement by the Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders such as the Epilepsy Association of Zambia to dispel the myths in order to protect the health of children,” he said.
“Such actions have serious implications on the lives of children and effects may include cancer of the liver, loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, stomach ailments, heart and central nervous system damage and memory loss.”
Mhuru said with the disease already associated with a lot of myths in Zambia such as witchcraft, he appealed to the Ministry of Health to strengthen community engagement that would help dispel them through behaviour change approaches.
“Although Idiopathic epilepsy is not preventable, according to the World Health Organisation, mothers need to be aware that there are other preventive measures which can be applied to the known causes of secondary epilepsy which do not include alcohol,” he said.
“These measures include; preventing head injury is the most effective way to prevent post-traumatic epilepsy, adequate perinatal care which can reduce new cases of epilepsy caused by birth injury and use of drugs and other methods to lower the body temperature of a feverish child which can reduce the chance of febrile seizures.”
Mhuru said it was important for mothers to know that elimination of parasites in the environments and education on how to avoid infections can be effective ways to reduce epilepsy.