Contact Us

Follow Us

Epilepsy is not a curse

Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. (1) Of these, it is estimated that it affects 4,4 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. (2) Unfortunately, the condition is stigmatised because of the commonly held idea that epilepsy is contagious. (3)

Furthermore, in certain parts of Sub–Saharan Africa, epilepsy continues to be associated with witchcraft and for these reasons, people with epilepsy are often socially excluded. (4)


What exactly is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects all ages, genders and races. If you have epilepsy, surges of electrical activity in your brain cause seizures (fits). (5)


Causes of Epilepsy

This abnormal electrical activity in the brain can be due to a variety of factors. These include but are not limited to (6):


  • Head trauma (damage to the head, skull or brain caused by injury)
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumors
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis and AIDS
  • Genetic factors
  • Developmental disorders


Symptoms of Epilepsy Seizures (6)


  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Staring spells, eyes rolling back or fluttering
  • Stiffening of muscles
  • Temporary confusion
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Psychotic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or a feeling of deja vu

These symptoms will vary depending on the type of seizure. Generally speaking, a person with epilepsy will most likely have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from one seizure to the next.


Treatment of Epilepsy

Although there is no known cure for epilepsy, developments in treatment options have made it possible to at least control seizures. Options include (7):


  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Dietary therapy
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Complementary and alternative therapies


It is reported that 70% of people with epilepsy could be seizure–free if treated. Despite this, over 90% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa with epilepsy do not receive treatment. (8)


First aid for seizures

If somebody near you has a seizure, you should do the following to help them (9):

  • Firstly, do not panic or be afraid
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard, or sharp object
  • Turn the person onto their side
  • Cushion their head
  • Loosen anything around their neck like a scarf or tie
  • Stay with them until the seizure is over and they are totally awake
  • Do NOT try to keep them still by holding them down
  • Do NOT put anything into their mouth
  • Do NOT try to give them mouth-to-mouth breaths
  • If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, you should call an ambulance.


If you have had a seizure for the first time, get medical attention immediately. If you have been living with epilepsy, let’s stand together to remove the stigma so that more people can live full, healthy lives.