BACKGROUND: There is marked variation in the prevalence of epilepsy across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In order to accurately estimate the clinical and public health impacts of epilepsy in the region, robust and reliable epidemiological data are required for appropriate estimation of logistical, economical, and social impacts of epilepsy including policy formulation and intervention in the region.
OBJECTIVE: The team sought to evaluate the prevalence of active epilepsy (AE) and lifetime epilepsy prevalence in SSA using available data collected at community level.
METHODS: The team carefully searched online databases and identified the required articles using prespecified criteria. Random-effects model (REM) was used to estimate the active and lifetime prevalence from data generated from studies in SSA.. The burden of epilepsy, in terms of the number of people with the disease, was also obtained. Heterogeneity in the analysis was further explored using subgroup analysis and meta-regression techniques.
RESULT: A total of 39 and 12 community-based door-to-door surveys addressing AE and lifetime epilepsy, respectively, from different countries of SSA met the inclusion criteria for the study. Random-effects model estimates of overall prevalence of epilepsy were 9 per 1000 persons (95% confidence interval (CI): 8.0-9.9 per 1000 persons) for AE and 16 per 1000 persons (95% CI: 12.3-19.7 per 1000 persons) for lifetime epilepsy. The prevalence was highest in the Central Africa subregion with 30.2 per 1000 persons (95% CI: 6.2 to 66.7 per 1000 persons). The prevalence of AE in the rural settlement was twice that of the urban settlements. About 9,596,551 (95% CI: 8,530,267-10,556,206) people with AE and 17,060,535 (95% CI: 13,115,286-21,005,784) people with lifetime epilepsy live in SSA.
CONCLUSION: This study estimates the active (9/1000) and lifetime (16/1000) epilepsy with a remarkable burden of the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the prevalence, which is higher in the rural setting, varies within the subregion of Sub-Saharan Africa.