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Epilepsy care guidelines for low- and middle- income countries: From WHO mental health GAP to national programs

Juri Katchanov12 and Gretchen L Birbeck34*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases and Gastroenterology, Auguste-Viktoria-Krankenhaus, Berlin, Germany

2 Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi

3 Michigan State University, International Neurologic and Psychiatric Epidemiology Program, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

4 Chikankata Hospital, Epilepsy Care Team, Mazabuka, Zambia

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2012, 10:107  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-107

Published: 24 September 2012


In 2011, the World Health Organization's (WHO) mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) released evidence-based epilepsy-care guidelines for use in low and middle income countries (LAMICs). From a geographical, sociocultural, and political perspective, LAMICs represent a heterogenous group with significant differences in the epidemiology, etiology, and perceptions of epilepsy. Successful implementation of the guidelines requires local adaptation for use within individual countries. For effective implementation and sustainability, the sense of ownership and empowerment must be transferred from the global health authorities to the local people. Sociocultural and financial barriers that impede the implementation of the guidelines should be identified and ameliorated. Impact assessment and program revisions should be planned and a budget allocated to them. If effectively implemented, as intended, at the primary-care level, the mhGAP guidelines have the potential to facilitate a substantial reduction in the epilepsy treatment gap and improve the quality of epilepsy care in resource-limited settings.

Non-physician healthcare worker; clinical officer; variations in care; treatment gap