Introduction Epilepsy is highly prevalent in Cameroon, yet a significant treatment gap remains. Nurses and health care workers are often the first medical proffessionals to interact with someone with epilepsy and can significantly affect the patient’s experience. Aim: To develop an evidence based curriculum that highlighted key issues relating to people living with epilepsy and train nurses and healthcare workers to appropriately counsel patients with epilepsy in North West Cameroon.
Method A literature review of online datab ases was conducted using Epilepsy, Cameroon and key authors as search terms. Grey literature and informal research was also considered. All papers were evaluated for suitability against a predefined inclusion criteria. The findings and conclusions were collated to develop a training program which was delivered to nurses and health care workers in North West Cameroon.
Results Twenty eight papers were identified in the search of which 13 met the inclusion criteria. The prevalence of epilepsy in Cameroon ranges from 11.6 to 134 per 1000 people compared with a European prevalence of 8.23/ 1000 people. The leading causes of epilepsy in Cameroon are neurocystercisocsis, trauma, meningitis and perinatal illness. Epilepsy is common with approximately 80% of the general population in Cameroon having witnessed a seizure. Yet 10% of trainee health care professionals and up to 43% of the general public believe it to be a contagious illness and linked to insanity. There is a lot of stigma surrounding epilepsy such that one third to half of people would object to their children marrying someone with epilepsy. The general perception is that modern treatment is better than traditional or religious healing, yet 17.9% of patients with epilepsy are concurrently taking traditional treatment with their anti-epileptic drugs.
Conclusion There are many socio-cultural beliefs that affect a person living with epilepsy. The findings of this literature review were used to develop a training program which emphasised that epilepsy is not contagious, people with epilepsy can live fulfilling rewarding lives, and with good compliance antiepileptic drugs can improve seizure control. Training on history taking, recognition of seizures and management of an acute seizure was also provided.