The role of social workers in the social management of epilepsy in Africa

Authored by: Jacob Mugumbate , Harmiena Riphagen , Rosemary Gathara

The Handbook of Social Work and Social Development in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472468512
eBook ISBN: 9781315557359
Adobe ISBN: 9781317029380


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Despite the stigma associated with epilepsy in most African countries, definitions of this neurological condition often overlook its social nature and focus solely on its medical presentation (Diop, 2000). Once diagnosed, it is usually treatable, though its social impact might be extremely debilitating for people living with epilepsy. Importantly, epilepsy is a social condition characterised by entrenched stigma that requires social management (Birbeck, 2000; Lu & Elliott, 2012). It is in the social management of epilepsy that social work can play an important role. This chapter examines the role of social work through the professional work of peak associations for people living with epilepsy familiar to the authors from Zimbabwe (Mugumbate, researching employment opportunities for service users of the Zimbabwe Epilepsy Support Foundation (ESF)), Namibia (Riphagen, Chairperson of Epilepsy Namibia (EN)), and Kenya (Gathara, program coordinator at the Kenya Association for the Welfare of People with Epilepsy (KAWE)), as well as from other African countries such as Zambia, Swaziland, Mauritius, and Uganda, with which these associations have direct contact.

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