Health seeking behaviour in epileptic patients in Bobo‐Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) Volume 15, issue 3, Juillet 2003

Centre hospitalier national Souro‐Sanou de Bobo‐Dioulasso, Burkina‐Faso. Institut d‘épidémiologie et de neurologie tropicale, 2, rue du Docteur‐Marcland, 87025 Limoges Cedex, France.

The treatment of epilepsy in Africa is made complex mainly because of the various beliefs surrounding it. This study was carried out to evaluate the health seeking behaviour towards epilepsy among people with epilepsy (97 males and 48 females) in Bobo‐Dioulasso. The average age of the patients was 34.5 years ranging from 18 to 65 years. Traditional healers and modern structures were the first to be consulted by the patients. 75 patients went to traditional healers and 43 to a modern health structure. Five patients went first to a "marabout" (Islamic teacher) for initial treatment. Majority of people with epilepsy asserted having used traditional healers along with modern medicine for their healthcare. The reasons stated by the patients for going to traditional healers were : (i) 46.6 % of the sample said that they did not know that modern medicine could treat epilepsy ; (ii) 10.1 % said that traditional healers are more accessible geographically and financially ; (iii) 11.8 % said that they trust traditional healers ; (iv) 10.1 % said that they have been sent to traditional healers by health workers and (v) 21.2 % said that the fees paid to the traditional healers are suitable to the patients. Health seeking behaviour in epileptic patients is not guided only by the unavailability of modern medicine but also by the causes of the disease as perceived by people with epilepsy. Because of that, there is a need to develop an educational and awareness raising policy focused on the organic nature of epilepsy.