Saturday 23 February, 2019

Epilepsy association looks to crowdfunding to purchase medication

Joy McHugh, executive director of the Jamaican Epilepsy Association.

Joy McHugh, executive director of the Jamaican Epilepsy Association.

Living with epilepsy can be a challenge; however, it is manageable, stated Gail Valentine, who has been living with the disease since age three.

Valentine explained that once persons take their medication as prescribed, the disease can be managed.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, in the brain, sometimes signals abnormally causing strange sensations, emotions, and behaviour, or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and can result in loss of consciousness.

However, Joy McHugh, executive director of the Jamaican Epilepsy Association, explained that the medication can be expensive. She stated that the cost for two to three, or even four to six different combinations of medications, can be from J$12,000 to J$45,000 monthly, per person.  

Consequently, many persons living with the disease have difficulty purchasing their medication.

“In Jamaica, it is hard for persons with epilepsy to gain employment,” she pointed out, “Because, once it is known that you have epilepsy, some employers lose confidence in the individual. Acknowledging the challenges of persons living with the disease, Nora Perez founded the Association in 2002, to assist in addressing some of the issues.

“Our mission is to improve the quality of life of persons in Jamaica who are living with epilepsy,” McHugh said.

She also noted that one of the biggest concerns for persons with epilepsy, and their families, is how it affects their day-to-day life.

“Epilepsy does not only impact the person with the condition, but it also affects how they make a living. Coping with epilepsy is different for everyone; and, many persons cannot find employment; therefore, they are unable to purchase their medication,” she informed.

As a result, the association has entered into a partnership with The Jamaica National Group, to raise funds via its ISupportJamaica.com platform, to assist with funding medication for its members.

The Association hopes to raise US$2,000; and, all funds donated will be used to assist members of the Jamaica Epilepsy Association with medication.

McHugh stated that interested persons can contribute to the initiative, under the Jamaican Epilepsy Association Member Care Project, which is mounted on the ISupportJamaica crowdfunding platform.

Phillip Lindsay, operations officer, ISupportJamaica, at the JN Group, said that crowdfunding is beneficial, as it is a positive method to gain exposure for projects, or business ventures, which need to raise financial support.

Mr Lindsay also explained that contributing to any initiative via the platform is simple and secure. Interested persons can donate by visiting the ISupport Jamaica.com platform at www.isupportjamaica.com, click on the project; and then click the “Fund Project” button.

In addition, donations can also be made via JN Live e-banking; and at any JN Branch or MoneyShop; as well as, through interbank transfers.

The Jamaican Epilepsy Association is a registered non-profit organisation, funded by donations and fundraising events. Its mission is to improve the lives of persons with epilepsy in Jamaica; and, to make a positive difference, through awareness about epilepsy and first aid training.

This association is the only one of its kind in the English-Speaking Caribbean.

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