International Symposium | 19th to 22nd September


NEWroscience 2023


Symon Kariuki

KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Program: Kilifi, Kenia, Africa.


Integrating Traditional and Complementary Medicine in the Treatment of Epilepsies and Comorbidities. African Challenges and Reflections

Traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) encompasses products, practices and practitioners that do not form part of conventional treatment and are not an integral part of the main health care systems. They are very common in the management of epilepsy and its associated complications, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). For instance, in population survey in Africa, over 70% of people with epilepsy had visited a traditional health practitioner before the survey. Accessibility, cultural appropriateness, and pragmatic explanations and practices were some of the reasons the communities preferred T&CM over biomedical medicine. There is growing interest in T&CM worldwide because of its economic potential, concerns and safety and quality and potential for integration into the health care systems. There is urgent need to develop and implement national TM&CM policies and programs aimed at expanding the knowledge base and providing guidance on regulatory and quality assurance standards. However, LMIC continues to lag in implementation of these policies and guidelines, especially the areas of research and development and regulation of T&CM practice. Working with stakeholders, countries are advised to assess their own national situations in relation to T&CM, and then come up with practical solutions to these realities. For instance, surveying benefits and risks of T&CM in the management of epilepsy in the local context and using this to promote appreciation of a role for T&CM, which will ease integration into the main health systems.