Identifying areas for improvement in epilepsy management in developing countries: An experience of neurocooperation in Cameroon

Neurologia. Jan-Feb 2021;36(1):29-33. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2019.02.004. Epub 2019 May 4.
[Article in English, Spanish]

Abstract

Introduction: Epilepsy is especially prevalent in developing countries: incidence and prevalence rates are at least twice as high as in our setting. Epilepsy is also highly stigmatised, and few resources are available for its management.

Material and methods: We performed a descriptive observational study in December 2016, distributing a questionnaire on epilepsy management to healthcare professionals from 3 different hospitals in Cameroon. Data are presented as means or percentages.

Results: Thirty-eight healthcare providers participated in the survey; 42.1% were female and mean age was 40.1 years (range, 22-62). Regarding the causes of epilepsy, 68.4% considered it a psychiatric condition, 34.2% a degenerative disease, 28.9% a hereditary condition, and 21.1% secondary to infection. In terms of management, 23.7% considered that thorough clinical history is sufficient to establish a diagnosis. Only 60.5% considered the clinical interview to be important for diagnosis, 52.6% considered EEG to be necessary, and 28.9% considered laboratory analyses to be important. Only 13.2% mentioned neuroimaging. In the treatment of pregnant women, 36.8% recommended folic acid supplementation, 65.8% believed antiepileptic treatment should be maintained, and only 39.5% recommended breastfeeding. Concerning treatment, the participants knew a mean of 2 antiepileptic drugs: phenobarbital was the best known (81.6%), followed by carbamazepine (55.3%) and valproic acid (28.9%).

Conclusions: There is a need among healthcare professionals for education and information on the disease, its diagnosis, and management options, in order to optimise management and consequently improve patients' quality of life.

Keywords: Developing; Educación; Education; Embarazo; En vías de desarrollo; Epilepsia; Epilepsy; Pregnancy; Tratamiento; Treatment.