Date: June 2, 2023

Location: Quatre Bornes, Mauritius

In an effort to improve the response of police officers to individuals with epilepsy and calls related to seizures, the EDYCS Epilepsy Group, a leading organization supporting people with epilepsy and their families in Mauritius, conducted a comprehensive training workshop for police officers. The workshop, held in collaboration with the Office of the Police Commissioner and key partners, aimed to provide officers with essential information and equip them with the necessary skills to handle situations involving epilepsy effectively.

The training workshop, funded by Ebene Hypermarket, featured an extensive agenda covering various aspects of epilepsy and seizure response. The day began with the registration of participants and an interactive exercise where police officers shared their expectations for the workshop. These expectations were later revisited to ensure that the workshop met their needs and addressed their concerns.

The opening session commenced with a warm welcome from Youssouf Noormamode, President of the EDYCS Epilepsy Group and Vice Chair of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) Africa. Paramasiva Chengan, Vice President of EDYCS, then introduced the workshop objectives, emphasizing the importance of maintaining officer and public safety while protecting the rights of individuals with epilepsy.

The workshop proceeded with a presentation by Youssouf Noormamode, who provided insights into epilepsy at both a global and national level. He debunked common myths surrounding epilepsy and highlighted the need for public education to dispel misconceptions. He also shared a situational analysis of epilepsy in Mauritius, shedding light on the prevalence and challenges faced by those living with the condition.

Plenary discussions followed, where police officers had the opportunity to share their experiences and insights regarding the management of epilepsy in different settings, including police custody and public places. The discussions revealed the need for an intervention protocol for handling seizures in prisoners and stressed the importance of improving seizure recognition and providing proper first aid.

The workshop continued with sessions on epilepsy disorder and associated comorbidities, mental health, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, rescue therapies, and first aid. Experts, including Dr. Umar Jomeer and Jainna Chelumbrun, a psychologist, delivered informative presentations that enhanced the officers’ understanding of epilepsy and equipped them with practical knowledge on how to respond to epilepsy-related incidents effectively.

During a networking lunch, participants had the opportunity to connect and exchange experiences, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among the attendees. The afternoon sessions focused on intersectoral global action plans on epilepsy, disability rights, successful partnerships between the police force and EDYCS, and an overview of the services provided by the EDYCS Epilepsy Group.

The training workshop concluded with an evaluation to gauge its effectiveness, and certificates of attendance were handed out to the participating police officers. In his closing remarks, Paramasiva Chengan expressed gratitude to the Office of the Police Commissioner, the workshop facilitators, and the officers for their active participation and commitment to enhancing their understanding of epilepsy.

The training workshop marked an important step toward improving the response of police officers to epilepsy-related incidents in Mauritius. By equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills, the workshop aimed to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals with epilepsy while fostering a supportive and inclusive society. Moving forward, the EDYCS Epilepsy Group plans to sustain communication with the trained police officers through a dedicated WhatsApp group, allowing for ongoing support and reporting of epilepsy-related cases.

Through collaborative efforts and ongoing education, Mauritius is taking significant strides in creating a more compassionate and informed society, where individuals with epilepsy are understood, supported, and protected.