Epilepsy is classified as a seizure condition in which, over time, there are multiple events of abnormal electrical activity in the brain with no acute cause. According to recent estimates, in Uganda, about 215 people in every 100,000 suffer from epilepsy compared to 50 per 100,000 in the UK and according to the World Health Organisation, most people living with epilepsy in Uganda have no access to regular medical care. This means many cases in Uganda go untreated or undetected. One of the barriers to accessing treatment has been recognised as the distance to travel to reach clinics, but even where this was reduced there was evidence that utilisation did not improve without education, counselling and community engagement. Cultural beliefs and stigma about the disease have been found to lead parents to hide their children to avoid being socially isolated.
Epilepsy affects the whole family. Parents of children with epilepsy are often isolated and feel stigmatised by their child’s illness, and in many cases, it is difficult for them to discuss this with their families and communities. Changing entrenched attitudes that have been passed on from one generation to another is a huge challenge, so clear health education that empowers parents through knowledge is an essential component of the community clinic.
KCDC runs monthly community epilepsy clinics in partnership with local Health Centres and Accomplish Children’s Trust CIO A team of doctors, nurses and social workers provide assessments and monitoring, prescribe and distribute appropriate medications and deliver health education to increase awareness and reduce stigma.