Integrating and Understanding the IGAP in Relation to Epilepsy Care in Africa

University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa

3 - 9 July 2023

This school will equip and inspire early career neuroscientists and clinicians from Africa in translational elements of basic science study for epilepsy and the implications for clinical practice, with a special focus on the content of the Intersectional Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders (IGAP). By the end of the course, students will have developed an understanding of how to work in a laboratory based setting and be provided with key updates in epilepsy terminology, in-line with recent ILAE updates from the nosology commission. Students will also benefit from exposure to focused teaching via a Paediatric Epilepsy Training (PET) course. Participants will receive direct clinical exposure by observing an electroencephalograpy (EEG) unit in practice, attending a dedicated epilepsy clinic and contributing to further discussions. Students will also gain further confidence and insight into protocol development via tutor based support of diverse study designs completed and facilitated within small working groups.

About the school:

The school will start with a welcome and orientation session enabling faculty and students to familiarize themselves with each other’s background experience as well as scientific and clinical interests and goals. There will be conventional didactic lectures on critical clinical epilepsy related topics aligned with the IGAP in addition to current updates on ILAE terminology and management and how this is relevant to clinical practice. During and following the didactic lectures there will be ample time for questions, interaction and discussion. These lectures will be the focus for Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings and will be delivered by local faculty as well as invited international guests remotely.

Students will be divided into small tutorial groups with a balance of neuroscientists and clinicians. Groups will  be assigned specific tutors and allocated a project title. Tutors will assist their assigned groups in developing their protocol, ensuring access to literature searches and providing guidance regarding the development of a successful study design. Groups will have guest access to the UCT library and internet facilities. Tutors will be the direct contact point for specific learning objective questions and career guidance questions.

The basic science content includes an overview of setting up an effective neuroscience research laboratory and specific experience within the UCT neuroscience laboratory on experimental models, including recording spikes from cockroaches, recording human muscle potentials, recording seizures in brains slices, etc. Specific clinical exposure will be enabled on the Wednesday. Students will spend the day at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital where they will take part in a grand round with interesting clinical cases presented (with consenting children / caregivers), followed by an afternoon rotating through the EEG service and epilepsy clinic. The day will complete with students listening  and engaging in the regular epilepsy surgery case discussion meeting.

On Thursday, students will complete a Paediatric Epilepsy Training course. This is an internationally accredited teaching course accessible for all clinically applied practitioners who would benefit from entry level knowledge in the care of children with seizures and epilepsy. Teaching is based on models of adult learning and provides a certificate of completion. Whilst targeted at paediatrics, the methodology of the teaching and the evidence based approach to care is translatable into other settings and provides a useful starting point for extended care practice.

On Friday, following the preset didactic lectures, there will be an EEG case discussion via the African Paediatric Fellowship Program interactive EEG neurochat platform, which is an online tool used between colleagues in Kenya (Nairobi) and Cape Town as well as a network of other clinicians across Zambia, Tanzania, Sudan and others.

Saturday morning will include a well-earned morning hike and picnic as a networking activity with students and faculty. The afternoon will be focused on final project presentation preparation. On Sunday the students groups will present their projects to the faculty and be provided with positive critiques and maybe a prize!

The school dates allows the possibility of travel to Johannesburg to attend the SONA congress from the 10th July.

Who should apply to this school?

Neurology discipline related trainees and residents, researchers in the field of neuroscience, and junior / early career neurology discipline related clinicians in Africa.

What costs will be covered for selected participants?

 Participants will have the opportunity to apply for the following 3 bursary options:

1. Full bursary (travel, accommodation, food, registration)

2. Partial bursary (registration, accommodation and food) bursaries

3. No bursary (cover all own costs)

Co-Sponsor: International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE)