From 12-14 October 2017 the first international workshop on onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE 2017) was held in Antwerp. This workshop preceded the 10th European Conference of Tropical disease and international Health (ECTMIH). The aim of the workshop was to bring together organisations/researchers involved in onchocerciasis control and research, and those involved in the treatment and research of epilepsy. The eventual goal of this conference was to create an OAE alliance that will work in collaboration with the division of neglected diseases and mental health of WHO.
High prevalence of Nodding syndrome (NS) and other types of epileptic seizures have been reported in many onchocerciasis endemic regions in Africa for decades. To improve the quality of life of affected patients and families there is an urgent need to unravel the relationship between these epileptic disorders and onchocerciasis (river blindness), and to design treatment and prevention strategies. Furthermore, organisations and researchers involved in ochocerciasis control/research and those involved in treatment/research of epilepsy need to join forces.
Target group of OAE 2017
- onchocerciasis, epilepsy and public health experts/scientists from the North and the South;
- advocacy groups, health care workers, Ministries of Health, non-governmental organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, WHO, funding organisations;
- Master students, PhD students and post-docs with an interest in global health, tropical diseases and health systems.
Objectives of OAE 2017
- assemble OAE experts and stakeholders from the North and the South;
- disseminate and share knowledge and reseach results about OAE;
- identify the pathophysiological mechanism causing OAE;
- develop an OAE case definition for surveillance and research;
- develop collaborative research projects and guidelines to prevent and treat OAE;
- establish the burden of disease caused by OAE;
- develop/update OAE research priorities.
Results of OAE 2017
- an OAE alliance between stakeholders with different backgrounds but with a common interest and commitment to address important research questions about OAE and to improve the quality of life of patients and families affected by OAE.
- an OAE policy plan.