Epilepsy and its effects on children and families in rural Uganda|
Background: This report aims to assess the impact of childhood epilepsy in an isolated rural area in Western Uganda, with little access to medical care, via its effect on children and families. Basic information on 440 affected children, clinically examined at 19 rural centres, was collated and data on seizure pattern and duration analysed, together with information on school attendance of older children.
Objective: To publicise the consequences of undertreated illness, and to encourage improved management of this condition.
Results: Distribution by seizure type was: generalised 61%, focal 33%, and miscellaneous 6%. When information on all seizure types was combined, a ‘typical seizure’ lasted < 1 hour, followed by coma. The typical age of onset and duration of illness approximated 2½ and 4 years respectively. Modal frequency and duration of seizures suggested that ~96 hours might be ‘lost’ to seizures over 4 years.Twenty four children had delayed global or motor development; a further 93 were reported to have ‘poor nderstanding’. Information on school attendance available on 162 of 231 school aged children indicated that 92 were attending and 70 not attending school. Fifty eight percent of children >10 yrs old attending school
and 68% of non-attendees, had never progressed beyond the entry class.
Conclusion: The unexpected prevalence of apparent cognitive delay is discussed, together with strategies for prevention and management of epilepsy at community level.
Antiepileptic drugs; prolonged coma; cognition; traditional; treatment; schooling