International Epilepsy Day, February 12, 2024

At Doren Specialist hospital, we join the world to observe today the International Epilepsy Day being a special awareness day that takes place on the second Monday in February to shine a light on the challenges faced by people living with epilepsy. It takes place on February 12 this year. The theme for 2024 is ‘Milestone on my Epilepsy Journey’.

Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is the fourth most common neurological disorder and one of the oldest-known medical conditions. The condition causes electrical activity in the brain to stop for a short time, which leads to recurrent seizures. Even though 65 million people in the world live with epilepsy, there is still some stigma around the disease. International Epilepsy Day exists to educate the general public about epilepsy and to teach people how to provide better care for people living with the disorder.

International Epilepsy Day is the brainchild of the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy. The two organizations have put together various events on the day since its inception.

Epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest-known medical conditions, with records dating back to the beginning of recorded history. Of course, back then, it was treated as a spiritual condition. In 2000 B.C., an ancient Mesopotamian text described a person who underwent an exorcism under the influence of a moon god. Ancient Babylonians attributed seizures to possession by evil spirits. The ancient Greeks also considered epilepsy to be spiritual possession, but they associated it with genius and divine interventions.

Almost every year, a theme is chosen to guide the events of the day. In 2018, the theme was ‘This is Me,’ in 2016, it was ‘Yes, I can!’ and in 2017, it was ‘Putting Epilepsy in the Picture.’ In 2015, there was no official theme because it was the first occurrence of the holiday. There was also no theme chosen in 2019.

Epilepsy is such a part of documented history that it is mentioned in the “Code of Hammurabi,” the longest, best-organized, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. In the Code, it is referred to as a condition under which a slave may be returned for a refund. Epilepsy also gets a mention in an ancient Egyptian medical text called “The Edwin Smith Papyrus.”

The stigma associated with epilepsy is also historical. In ancient Rome, people did not eat or drink from the same plates or pots as people living with epilepsy. Up to the second half of the 20th century, in some parts of Africa, epilepsy was believed to be contagious and a result of possession, witchcraft, or poisoning.

Today, International Epilepsy Day is commemorated in more than 120 countries all over the world.

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