Tackling the high prevalence of epilepsy in Rwanda: identification of risk factors, improvement of diagnostics and reduction of the epilepsy treatment gap

September 2022 to August 2027
epilepsy treatment gap
accurate diagnosis
preventive interventions
electronic health and treatment
record system
University of Rwanda (Rwanda)
Research fields
Medicine and Health Sciences

Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological disorders that affects 70 million people worldwide of whom 85% live in low- and middle income countries. The treatment gap, which includes the diagnosis gap, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) amounts to 80%. The prevalence in Rwanda is amongst the highest of SSA, estimated at 4.9%, with an epilepsy treatment gap of 91.5% due to diagnostic and therapeutic limitations in rural areas. However, risk factors for epilepsy that lead to the high prevalence, and modifiable contributors to the high treatment gap have never been thoroughly investigated in Rwanda. This project will 1) strengthen the research capacity on risk factors, aetiologies and contributors to the epilepsy treatment gap by establishing a research group to support resident neurologists and future PhD students in driving research on epilepsy in Rwanda, and 2) improve capacity for accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up by using an innovative electronic health and treatment record system, with the aim to ultimately improve quality of life of people living with epilepsy in Rwanda. The goal is to tackle the high prevalence by informing health policies on preventive interventions for risk factors of epilepsy and on treatment gap contributors by using a community-based approach and implementing a ‘digital for development' initiative.