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Fighting the stigma of epilepsy in Africa with Education

EpilepsyAfricaA handbook with the aim of teaching people about the causes and treatment and also to demystify the conditions of epilepsy, written by Dr Radcliffe Lisk was yesterday launched at the Ramsy Hall.

Giving an overview of the handbook, Dr. Virginia George gave the cause of the disease which she said is sometimes called ‘seizure’ and it is widely believed that a person with epilepsy is seized by a supernatural force or power.
The 32-page book, she said, seeks to expose the misconception of the disease and give knowledge about epilepsy. Dr. George stated that the book discovered that the prevalence in Sierra Leone is high in children and young people and they find access to medical care very difficult.

Adding that in Sierra Leone, people with epilepsy are less likely to receive an education or generate a living income and are more likely to live in extreme poverty. The Doctor said misunderstanding about the condition, its causes and how it may be treated often lead to discrimination. She said the book also provides advice on the use of medication, women with epilepsy, rehabilitation of people with epilepsy.

In her statement, Sarah Snow of the Medical Assistance Sierra Leone, UK said her organization, supports health care in Sierra Leone and in 2010 they started planning a project for epilepsy. She said in Sierra Leone, like other countries about 90% of the people with epilepsy do not receive treatment, that was why they set up a clinic in Bo and during this time they discovered that more people needed the treatment.

Snow said in one year of work, they have been able to attend to 3,000 epilepsy patients out of about 60-80,000 patients in the country therefore they will not relent, as there are more inroads to be made. In launching the handbook, Director of Training, Non- Communicable Disease and Research, Dr. Donald Taqi said there is 95% gap in the treatment of epilepsy. He said the book is important as its help workers and other caregivers about immediate actions to be taken in the absence of doctors to attend in the case of an epilepsy attack.Dr. Taqi stated that the handbook will be used in advocacy, education and spread the message of the conditions all over the country, and that he is pleased that the issue of epilepsy is being demystified.

He pledge government full support to the initiative of the project in spreading the message of epilepsy.
Professor Lisk, writer of the book, gave its background as an attempt to introduce epilepsy to health workers of all grades as well as members of the public interested in the topic. He disclosed that there are epilepsy clinics in all the districts and that they have trained health workers in Bo, Kenema and Western Rural and that will continue to engage the health workers in all the districts. During the course of the training, he said they found out that there was no material, therefore they decided to do the book which will help the health workers to help those in such conditions.
The book, Professor Lisk said, is an achievement because the language in the book can be used by everyone and not only health workers.

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  1. Thank you for this post… Many people in African countries are not educated on the diagnosis, stigma and medication that should be given to those with Epilepsy… I am based in South Africa… Many in our rural areas are not able to visit doctors, obtain relevant medication and therefore will not share their epilepsy with others. By being an Advocate, educating and sharing with many, I am able to bring some of them out of the stigma and realize they are normal human beings. Let’s all try to Advocate and educate!

  2. I feel so happy reading this post, though long after the post date. Thanks so much for the post. Many people are ignorant on this condition.The Myths about Epilepsy are exaggerated in this African part of the world. This is due to lack of education. People need to be thought some basics about this situation. I am from Cameroon and the founder of Cameroon Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.camepilepsyfdtn.org/ It is so pathetic in our country the lives these patients live. They are stripped from schools, churches and social activities in their communities. This is due to lack of education that brought the so many misconceptions about the situation. We are trying to run an educational sensitization campaign in the North West Region of my country where more than 35.000 people are know to suffer this condition. This book is surely going to be of great help in the campaign. Please i wish you could spare a few minutes of your time to see what we do about epilepsy on our site http://www.camepilepsyfdtn.org/my-story.php God bless you

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