Epilepsy control project may be extended

Saturday December 7 2019

By Zephania Ubwani @TheCitizenTz news@tz.nationmedia.com

Arusha. An epilepsy control project supported by Germany may be extended depending on the severity of the problem.

German government through its Education and Research ministry disbursed 8.5 million Euros for implementation of the first phase 2016/2021.

"Extension phase will be developed after evaluation by researchers", said said Prof. Andrea Sylvia Winkler, the co-director of CYSTINET Africa Consortium.

She revealed this at the end of a recent  conference on 'Taenia solium cysticercosis', an infectious disease caused by worms in pigs.

"At the moment we are implementing the first phase. Extension would also depend on availability of funds", she told journalists.

The project to fight tape worms in pigs is being implemented in Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique and has roped in six institutions.

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In Tanzania, it is spearheaded by the Sokoine University of Agriculture (Sua) and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).

Implementation largely involves capacity building for researchers and students and development of low cost locally adapted health education package.

Prof. Winkler, however, said only 30 per cent of acquired epilepsy is from the pig tape worm and the rest is acquired from other diseases.

Surveys indicated within Tanzania, T. solium infection is widespread in the northern, central and southern highland regions

Approximately, 16 per cent of free roaming pigs within the country are infected with T. solium worms behind the zoonotic disease.

"Epilepsy is also caused by other parasitic diseases such as  Onchocerciasis (river blindness)" said NIMR director general Prof. Yunus Mgaya.

The conference chairperson and the project's lead investigator Dr. Bernard Ngowi blamed epilepsy - a brain disorder - to other viral and parasitic diseases.

These include malaria and cardiovascular diseases and brain trauma. among a host of others, he told reporters.

World Health Organization (WHO) says 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide, of whom 85 per cent are in the developing countries.