Bridging the gap in epilepsy treatment in Africa: a randomized trial

An innovative approach to epilepsy care is being assessed in Nigeria in an effort to minimize treatment gaps.

“Eighty percent of the world’s children with epilepsy live in low and middle-income countries, and about half of the world’s children with epilepsy are not treated,” said Dr Edwin Trevathan of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

To address this need, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends shifting patient care from physicians to community health workers (CHWs). This was based on experience in HIV/AIDS care. However, data supporting this approach in epilepsy are lacking.

Based in northern Nigeria, the Bridging the Childhood Epilepsy Treatment Gap in Africa (BRIDGE) project has developed protocols to support epilepsy diagnosis and treatment. Local CHWs are trained to screen and diagnose patients, select treatment, and provide follow-up care under physician supervision.