Mental health

A calling to treat epilepsy

Thirteen years ago, Stephen Kontoh got a call. But this was no ordinary call: it was a call from God to become a spiritual leader. So he stopped farming cocoa and selling timber and became a faith healer who treats people with physical, mental and spiritual ailments.

Today, Stephen oversees all faith healers in 3 districts of Ghana’s Central Region. He runs a prayer camp in Kotokye, Central Ghana, where he sees people with various illnesses. He claims to heal people who have had strokes, have problems with alcohol consumption, diabetes, infertility, and other health issues. It is said he even cures blindness.

Stephen’s prayer camp is only 20 metres away from a community health clinic where the Programme on Reducing the Epilepsy Treatment Gap is being implemented by Ghana Health Services and WHO. As part of the project, several community volunteers who work at the health clinic have been trained to raise awareness about epilepsy and support people living with it.

Kotokye’s top faith healer has become involved in the initiative, learning that epilepsy is a non-contagious, chronic brain disorder that requires treatment with antiepileptic medications. Stephen now refers people with epilepsy from his prayer camp to the nearby community health clinic, and is an example of how educating traditional and faith healers can help reduce stigma and discrimination against people with epilepsy.

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