Apr 17, 2023
AXSChat Podcast with Bright M Bwalya, a 30-year, Software Engineer, Mental Health and Epilepsy Advocate
My name is Bright M Bwalya, a 30-year, Software Engineer, Mental Health and Epilepsy Advocate. I have a strong passion for Epilepsy & Mental Health Advocacy, with a strong desire to use technology to address common issues in many chronic conditions noticed here in Zambia.
I am the 3rd born in a family of 7 and growing up, I didn’t know about Epilepsy, I only got to hear of it after meeting one person who had it, later in grade 8. Fast-forward 2011 I was enrolled at the Copperbelt University to pursue a Degree in Information technology and as my studies went on, my love for technology grew. When I was researching on what project to work on for my 5th Year dissertation in 2016, I started experiencing seizures and I was later diagnosed with Epilepsy in March of 2016. Struggles arose brought by the condition ranging from the stigma name calling and mocking to people not knowing what to do when I suffer a seizure, a significant incident is when I suffered a seizure and I woke up to an exorcism. That opened my eyes to the fact that people di not know what this condition which was affecting many, actually was.
My struggles with Epilepsy inspired me to switch my final year project to one which could help me help those around me know what to do when I suffer a seizure. I call it “*Seizure Assistant*”, a mobile phone application built to be a health management and experience sharing platform which also allows patients to get help before or during a seizure. This help can be requested for either by a button push or auto seizure detection through a synchronized smart wrist band. The application then does three things; Send a preset SOS Message to a Set Emergency Contact alerting them of the seizure, with the patient’s location included for easier tracking. The patient’s phone will then play an SOS Sound to gain the attention of the people around. In response to the noisy phone, someone will pick it up and what they will find is a series of instructions on how to provide First Aid care to the patient experiencing a seizure with their Name, Condition Type and Emergency Contact Details included. This and many other features help Epileptics better manage their condition while teaching the masses about the condition thereby reducing the stigma surrounding it. The application houses a feature called “Community Feeds”, a feature that allow users to communicate and share the issues they are struggling with and get expert help right on the application, as well as response of encouragement and advise from fellow patients. The Feature works different from other platforms in that a user is free to share their complaints or queries in anonymity, if need be, however the help to them is still provided. This is useful for those not ready to open up about the conditions they are struggling with. This would help address the high rates of suicides which have rocked the country recently.
Due to a misunderstanding of my condition and effects of medicine, I was fired from a job and out of desperation, I took on another which had me working for 6 months with no pay and in that light, it has been a struggle to finish this project from the little I make in freelance work. The non-working time was however a needed low for it helped me research and find out what the people living with Epilepsy needed and hence create a solution tailored to their needs and when I presented the concept to Ministry of Science and Technology, they gave me a grant throug
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