Mental health

The Fight against epilepsy in Ghana

8 February 2019 - After attending community education sessions on epilepsy organized by the Fight against epilepsy initiative, Francesca Larbie and her husband Thomas visited a project-led clinic for the first time. Francesca was diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed anti-seizure medication – treatment that has completely changed her life for the better.

Francesca Larbie, person living with epilepsy

Before visiting the clinic, Francesca faced stigma in the community and had been told that she couldn’t give birth because of her epilepsy. Now she and her husband have two lovely children. Thomas and Francesca have become role models and are living examples of how cost-effective medication and treatment for epilepsy can change lives.

In Ghana, many people, like Francesca, live in communities where there is stigma about epilepsy and a lack of accessible, affordable and quality treatment.

For this reason, the Ministry of Health of Ghana, in collaboration with WHO, launched the Fight against epilepsy initiative in 2012. The goals of the 5-year project were to improve the identification and management of people with epilepsy in the existing primary health care system and to develop a model of epilepsy care at the community level that could be scaled up nationwide.

The project was implemented gradually across five regions comprised of 10 districts and 55 hospitals and clinics. It involved developing a strategy for delivering epilepsy care; training primary health care workers and community volunteers; raising awareness and educating communities; engaging traditional and faith healers; and strengthening monitoring and evaluation within routine reporting systems.

The project was successful in increasing coverage from 15% to 38% in the implementing districts and more than 2700 people received treatment for the first time.

International Epilepsy Day

International Epilepsy Day is celebrated each year on the 2nd Monday of February to promote awareness about epilepsy worldwide.