More than 770,000 Ugandans have epilepsy, with the eastern part of the country leading the way, according to a new report from Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) that was published yesterday.
The results of the survey MakSPH performed between 2020 and 2022 show that the prevalence of epilepsy in the country is 1.69 percent. (775,000 people).
The main investigator, Prof. Fredrick Makumbi, stated that there are differences in the disease’s prevalence depending on location, gender, and age in an interview with this publication.
The results show that the eastern area has the highest rate at 2.16 percent, which is higher than the national rate. The central and western regions come in second with incidence rates of both 1.6 percent and 1.35 percent, respectively, while Northern Uganda has the lowest prevalence rate.
The results also indicate that the prevalence rate is highest among young people aged 18 to 35, at 2.37 percent, followed by people over 60, at 2.34 percent, and people in the group of people aged 36 to 60, at 2.33 percent.
Children under the age of five have a very low prevalence rate of 0.86 percent, and those between the ages of six and 18 have a prevalence rate of 1.42 percent.
According to Dr. Makumbi, 1.72 percent of females have the condition, compared to 1.65 percent of men. A member of the study team from the School of Medicine, Prof. Angellina Kakoza, stated that they are still analyzing risk factors to determine the disparity in regional prevalence.
In collaboration with academics from Duke University’s departments of neurology and global neurosurgery, Makerere University performed the survey.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes epilepsy as a persistent, non-communicable brain condition that affects individuals of all ages.
According to the WHO, epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, making it one of the most prevalent neurological illnesses, with nearly 80% of cases occurring in low- and middle-income nations.
In their remarks yesterday at the release of the results scientists and nongovernmental organizations said many Ugandans with the disease cannot access the medication because it is expensive.
“When officials from Butabika come to Parliament, they only focus on asking for money as opposed to asking for medication for epilepsy. You should use these findings and advocate for free drugs in health centres,” Buyende District Woman MP Mary Nakato said.
According to Dr. Kadu Martin from the School of Public Health, stigmatization, a lack of public knowledge, and a shortage of doctors who can identify and treat epilepsy are all factors.
“There is a need for the training of health workers in all health facilities so that they can be able to diagnose and treat the disease. There is also a need for free drugs in the health centres,” he said.
Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the director of health services at the Ministry of Health, said the new figures of people with epilepsy is very high.
“We should intensify sensitisation of masses not to stigmatise these patients because epilepsy is a non-communicable disease,” he said.