The Ghana Team of Epilepsy Pathway Innovation in Africa (EPInA STUDY) Holds Stakeholders’ Meetings

Group photograph of participants

The Ghana Team of Epilepsy Pathway Innovation in Africa (EPInA Study) has organised two separate Stakeholder Meetings at Dodowa and Prampram to sensitize stakeholders, especially health workers, on the EPInA Study. The Study aims to improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa by addressing all aspects of the treatment pathway: awareness, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Speaking at both meetings, Dr. Patrick Adjei, Lead Researcher for the Study and Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS), stated that epilepsy is one of man’s oldest afflictions and one of the commonest serious neurological conditions that is particularly widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa. This high incidence is in at least a quarter of cases, because of preventable factors, yet many people who may have had seizures are not diagnosed, and even fewer numbers receive appropriate treatments. The factors are compounded by enduring social stigma that can make it hard for Africans with epilepsy to obtain employment, form relationships or feel valued, he added.

Dr. Patrick Adjei speaking at one of the meetings

Dr.  Adjei further disclosed that a greater number of people with epileptic condition do not get diagnosed in time, whilst a smaller number receives appropriate treatments. Additionally, persons with Epilepsy (PWE) are not willingly accepted in the society, which exposes them to stigma and social denial. He noted that the study was part of a multi-country project in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania that aims to address these gaps.

The Lead Researcher reiterated that the primary objectives of the study were to improve the awareness of epilepsy, especially non-convulsive seizures and to reduce the diagnostic gap. The study also aimed to reduce cost effectively through interaction with traditional healers and the use of innovative technologies (such as an epilepsy app) to augment access to appropriate diagnosis. Additionally, it offered training on non-specialist healthcare  in the Mental Health Gap Action Plan (mhGAP) Guidelines and adherence to people with epilepsy (PWE) via SMS messaging. Key to the study objectives was the systematic evaluation of reducing epilepsy through the appropriate application of the World Health Organisation’s Epilepsy Information Toolkit in Ghana.

Present at the meetings were Dr. Albert Akpalu, Co-Researcher and Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana Medical School; Dr. Cynthia Sottie, Ghana Project Coordinator; Dr. John Williams, Director, Dodowa Health Research Centre; Dr. Sika Ayisi Boateng, Deputy Director of Public Health, Greater Accra Regional Health Services, representatives from the local council of churches, and participants from the community.

From L to R: Nana Yaw Abankwa Jnr., Research Development Officer, CHS, Dr. Cynthia  Sottie, Dr. Patrick Adjei, Dr. Albert Akpalu, Mrs. Hannah Abban, Senior Administrative Assistant

The EPInA Team is international and multidisciplinary. The Team is fortunate to work alongside researchers from the University of Oxford, University College London, UK; the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK; the University of Newcastle, UK; KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya; the University of Nairobi, Kenya; the African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya; the University of Ghana; University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania; and the World Health Organisation, Switzerland.