Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

A model for managing epilepsy in a rural community in Africa.

British Medical Journal 1989; 298 doi: (Published 25 March 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;298:805
  1. A. E. Watts
  1. Embangweni Hospital, Malawi.


    As most Malawians with epilepsy consider treatment of seizures to be the domain of traditional healers and attend hospital only when they require treatment for burns which they suffer during fits, steps were taken to encourage people with epilepsy to attend hospital for regular treatment with anticonvulsant drugs. At first only a few patients attended, but within two years 461 had registered at the hospital and two mobile clinics. Publicity was spread through the area action committee, which was organised by the area chief. The main drug used was phenobarbitone. After treatment was given for six months seizures were fully controlled in 40 (56%) out of 71 patients. A further 20 (28%) had greatly improved. As news of the clinics spread other health units adopted the model, and eventually over 3000 patients with epilepsy were receiving regular treatment at 45 units throughout Malawi.