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Economic Burden of Epilepsy in Rural Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Abstract

In November 2017, persons with epilepsy (PWE) and their caretakers were recruited at health centres of the Logo health zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to collect information on both direct and indirect costs of epilepsy, as well as household income of participants.

Epilepsy is still very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in remote, poverty-confronted onchocerciasis-endemic villages. It constitutes a significant burden for the families and communities. However, the financial costs of managing persons with epilepsy (PWE) have not been assessed in these settings. Proper cost analyses will facilitate future health interventions.

Almost half of the household revenue was spent on epilepsy care. Expenses on traditional medicine must be discouraged via education and regular provision of affordable anti-epileptic drugs. Prevention of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy using optimal control measures will avert additional epilepsy-related costs on the community. Early diagnosis and proper management of epilepsy would be economically beneficial in the study villages.

The weighted mean cost of epilepsy was 241.2 USD per PWE per year (50.2% direct cost, 49.8% indirect cost). Epilepsy-related expenses represented 46.5% of the mean household income. Traditional medicine accounted for 68.2% of the direct cost. An estimated cumulative cost of 1929.6 USD attributable to epilepsy had been incurred by the populations of the Logo health zone for each PWE in the community.

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