Chapter Spotlight: South Africa

2018 was a fruitful year in terms of epilepsy related meetings/activities in South Africa. A number of Paediatric Epilepsy Training 1 (PET 1) courses were held throughout the country, and South African faculty supported further PET courses in other African countries.

The PET course is an initiative of the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA). A South African faculty was trained to teach the course in Feb 2016. This course has been developed to improve practice within childhood epilepsies. It is suitable for all health professionals providing primary or secondary level care for children with epilepsy.

PET courses held in 2018

The following courses were held in South Africa:

  • East London, South Africa, May 2018, Dr Isabel Michaelis faculty chair; 22 attendees
  • Durban, South Africa, August 2018, Dr Lawrence Mubaiwa faculty chair; 46 attendees
  • Cape Town, South Africa, October 2018; Prof. Regan Solomons faculty chair, 46 attendees.
    This PET course marked the 3 year audit by BPNA of the standard of the South African teaching courses. Professor Helen Cross attended this course to conduct the audit.

In addition, South African faculty supported PET courses in other countries:

  • Kenya, April 2018: 92 delegates and 25 faculty were trained. South African faculty that supported this meeting were Professor Jo Wilmshurst and Professor Gail Scher
  • Ghana, May 2018: 94 attendees Professor Jo Wilmshurst supported the first PET there
  • Tanzania, September 2018: 61 attendees Dr. Gill Riordan supported the first PET there
  • Kenya, November 2018: Professor Gail Scher supported the PET course

PET April 2018 Kenya
PET April 2018 Kenya
PET 25 August 2018- Durban
PET 25 August 2018- Durban
PET 20 October 2018, Cape Town, South Africa
PET 20 October 2018, Cape Town, South Africa

Other Paediatric Courses held in 2018

  1. SAPA meeting with PANDA track – 30/8/2018- 1/9/2018- Cape Town. This meeting covered a range of paediatric neurology topics including epilepsy
  2. PANDA Weekend 21/10/2018- Cape Town. The annual PANDA weekend took place at the Sports Science Institute and the focus this year was epilepsy. The program covered a range of pertinent topics in paediatric epilepsy including genetics of epilepsy, epilepsy surgery and co-morbidities in epilepsy. Professor Helen Cross together with local faculty presented the talks. There was also an interesting case presentation session where interesting and challenging patients were presented. There were 66 attendees at this meeting.

Adult Epilepsy Events held in 2018 in South Africa

  1. The Neurology Association of South Africa held their annual congress in March of 2018, at the Elangeni Hotel, Durban. Prof AI Bhigjee hosted the meeting. The congress saw a dedicated focus on developments in the field of epilepsy. An EEG workshop focusing on the practical analysis of EEGs was held. The Groote Schuur faculty made up of Dr L Tucker, Dr E Lee Pan and Prof R Eastman (emeritus) chaired the session.
    Invited international speakers included Prof S Irani of the Nuffield Department of Neurosciences, Oxford. He presented on his extensive work in the identification and description of auto-immune epilepsies. Prof Matthew Walker of the UCL institute of Neurology, Queen Square, also made up the faculty. Topics included the Ketogenic diet, advances in AMPA receptors and Gene Therapy in the management of Focal Epilepsy.
  2. The World Congress on Epilepsy and Brain Disorders was held at the V&A waterfront, Cape Town on 22-23 November 2018. The theme of the congress was the “Elimination of Epilepsy”. The faculty included both international and local speakers. The invited African faculty included Dr T Farombi, Neurologist – Nigeria; Dr JJ Labuschagne, Neurosurgeon – South Africa and Dr CN Lownie, Child Psychiatrist – South Africa. The international faculty included speakers from India; Argentina and Canada. The conference which hosted more than 100 participants, encouraged collaborations amongst psychiatrists, neuro-surgeons, neurologists, and researchers in the field of epilepsy.
  3. In addition, the Neurological Association of South Africa (NASA), in collaboration with the University of Cape Town has developed an online distance learning program that is designed to assist the training of neurology registrars in the principles and practice of clinical electroencephalography. The program is run as a part-time course over 6 months, covering 9 modules, lasting 3 weeks each. Online forums with discussion amongst students and tutors are also available. Conveners of the program include Dr L Tucker, Prof R Eastman (emeritus) and Dr E Lee Pan. This year saw the successful continuation of the program following its launch more than a year ago.