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EPILEPSY AND STIGMA IN AFRICA: VIEWPOINT OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS AND COMBAT STRATEGIES

Published:November 29, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2022.11.013

      Highlights

      • We assess the perception of health professionals in Africa regarding the stigmatization of PWE.
      • PWE are stigmatized especially in the community setting, this stigmatization include isolation, celibacy, unemployment and divorce.
      • Measures against stigmatization must be undertaken, to improve the quality of epilepsy management.
      • Awareness campaigns are essential to reduce stigma and improve the quality of life of PWE.

      Abstract

      Epilepsy is a major public health problem in developing countries where eighty percent (80%) of people with epilepsy (PWE) live. Stigma has psychological consequences as well as serious repercussions on patients’ quality of life. This study assesses the perception of health professionals in Africa regarding the stigmatization of PWE.

      Methodology

      : This is a multicenter descriptive, cross-sectional study, from 1st August 2020 to 1st September, 2021. Medical practitioners from African countries involved in the management of epilepsy and who agreed to fill out forms were included in the study. Sampling was nonrandom and based on respondent choice. The data were analyzed using the EPI INFO 7 software.

      Results

      : A total of two hundred and twenty-nine (229) health workers from twenty-six (26) African countries participated in this survey. 24.89% of the respondents were specialists and 46.72% were neurologists. Ninety-one percent (91%) of practitioners felt that PWE were stigmatised. The main forms of stigma were isolation (68.56%), celibacy (60.70%), unemployment (53.28%), divorce (44.54%) and exclusion (37.99%) %). Community, school and family were recognized as the main places of stigmatization. The fight against this stigma was carried out mainly in hospitals and in isolation in 58.4% and 55.8% of cases, respectively. Only 0.4% of practitioners opted for mass awareness.

      Conclusion

      : PWE are victims of various forms of stigmatization, particularly in community settings. Measures aimed at raising awareness of the public are essential to reduce this stigma and improve patients’ quality of life.

      Keywords

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