Multi-disciplinary approach to control onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy in the Mahenge area in Morogoro region, Tanzania

January 2018 to December 2021
Morogoro region
University of Antwerp
National Institute for Medical Research (Tanzania)
Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Tanzania)
Research fields
Medicine and Health Sciences

Despite the use of ivermectin (IVM) once annually for control of onchocerciasis (oncho) (= river blindness) in Mahenge Tanzania, the prevalence of oncho and epilepsy remains high. There is increasing evidence that epilepsy is a complication of oncho and that treatment of oncho can not only eliminate blindness but also reduce epilepsy. Our proposed project aims to: 1) strengthen the multi-disciplinary research capacity for the prevention of oncho and epilepsy in Tanzania. We will establish an oncho-associated epilepsy (OAE) research group to support a master and a PhD-level student in the development of research protocols addressing OAE in the Mahenge region; 2) reduce the prevalence of oncho and the incidence of epilepsy in the Mahenge area by: a) establishing a surveillance system for early diagnosis of epilepsy; b) strengthening and implementing an effective community distribution of IVM; 3) Implement evidence-based guidelines to treat OAE by training local health care workers; 4) introduce community advocacy on epilepsy, epilepsy-associated stigma and discrimination.