OBJECTIVE: To determine whether educating community leaders about epilepsy would lead to an increase in epilepsy cases being diagnosed and treated at primary health centers. METHODS: This was a single-arm cohort study performed in Epworth, a periurban township outside Harare, Zimbabwe. The subjects were Epworth community leaders (Local Board members, teachers, nurses, police officers, traditional healers, prophets). Educational workshops were given on epilepsy, its cause, and its management, and the number of new epilepsy cases on local primary health clinic registers 6 months after the workshops was measured. RESULTS: Six new cases were recorded, all among patients previously diagnosed with epilepsy. This was a significant increase (p = 0.02) compared with the null hypothesis. CONCLUSION: Although there was a significant increase in new cases, these did not represent newly diagnosed patients. Significant prejudice within the community may still prevent identified patients with epilepsy from seeking treatment. Alternative methods must be sought to increase the awareness of epilepsy within low-income communities and to reach "hidden" people with epilepsy.
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