Chapter Spotlight: Zimbabwe

History of Zimbabwe League Against Epilepsy

Conical tower and wall of great Zimbabwe
Conical tower and wall of great Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe League Against Epilepsy chapter started in the year 2000 with a number of programs which were initiated in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe (School of Medicine, and School of Social Work), the Epilepsy Support Foundation and the Ministry of Health. Its major focus was to provide expertise to epilepsy treatment and services in Zimbabwe.

The founder and first President of the League was the late Professor Jens Mielke who died in a small plane crash on 12 March 2008 en route to Botswana where he was leading an epilepsy program (you can read more here Jens Mielke - 1960 - 2008 or here or here Godfrey Zhande, who survived the plane crash, is still an active member of the League. The late Professor Lawrence Levy was a founding member.

Previous projects and activities

  1. The ZLAE conducted a research project in Wedza District in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe, under the Global Campaign Against Epilepsy (GCAE) Out of the Shadows project that was initiated by the ILAE, IBE and WHO. Zimbabwe was selected as a demonstration project site (together with Senegal, Brazil and China). As part of the campaign, the ZLAE partnered with Ministry of Health and Child Care, University of Zimbabwe (School of Medicine and School of Social Work), the Epilepsy Support Foundation (ESF) and the WHO local office. The partners formed a Zimbabwe Campaign team that administered the demonstration project. The report is available here:
  2. The Zimbabwe Campaign Team continued to run after the project, although it has not been active of late. Meetings are coordinated by the ESF and meetings are usually hosted by the Coordinator for Mental Health in the Ministry of Health.
  3. The ZLAE volunteered doctors at the Epilepsy Clinic run by the ESF for consultation for 2 years from 2012 to 2014 and continues to provide technical advice.
  4. The ZLAE has offered financial support to the ESF for administration and other operations.
  5. Partnered ESF in running the first epilepsy conference in the country.
  6. Produced Epilepsy Reference Manuals for Health Workers, teachers Epilepsy Reference book and Epilepsy Management Charts.
  7. League members have published journal articles on epilepsy.
  8. The League had representatives at the Epilepsy meeting in Dakar, Senegal, where the African Declaration on Epilepsy was agreed in 2000.

Current projects and activities

In spite of the economic and political challenges in Zimbabwe, ZLAE has been doing these activities:

  1. Nurse training grant of $2500 received from the African Commission of the International league against epilepsy to train nurses in rural Zimbabwe. Project being implemented in partnership with the Epilepsy Support Foundation of Zimbabwe.
  2. In 2017, we hosted Dr Arjune Sen. and Dr Sloan Mahone. Oxford Epilepsy Research Group, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK. They wanted to understand more about epilepsy in Zimbabwe.
  3. ZLAE help with EEG services at the ESF
  4. Initiated a Facebook page to improve member communication. You can like our page:
  5. Five members attended the second AEC in South Africa
  6. Had International Epilepsy Day activities with the ESF
  7. Two League members got bursaries to train in child neurology in South Africa

Leadership and Membership

The membership of ZLAE is open to any person who works in the field of science, public health, social care, and those who show interest in furthering the objectives of the League. The current board has the following members:

  • President Dr. Godfrey W. Ngwende
  • Vice-President- Dr. Poloscky
  • Secretary General- Dr. Matarutse
  • Treasurer Clotilda Chinyanya

Members include Doctors, EEG staff, Pharmacists, Psychologists, Social Workers and student doctors.

Zimbabwe League Against Epilepsy
Zimbabwe League Against Epilepsy leadership

Statistics in Zimbabwe

  • Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
    Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
    Prevalence of epilepsy: 1.34% or 134/1000 (based on IBE/ILAE/WHO Demonstration Project data).
  • Number of people with epilepsy (estimates): 180 000 - 500 000 out of 13.5 million total population
  • Treatment gap:
       • 93.1% in Hwedza District, based on Demonstration Project data
       • 85% national estimate
  • Number of dedicated epilepsy clinics: 2
  • Number of neurologists: 2
  • Number of neurosurgeons: 4
  • Number of EEGs in the country: 8
  • Number of CT scans: 9
  • Number of MRI machines in the country: 6
  • Morbidity and mortality due to epilepsy: Very high due to drowning, fires, SUDEP
  • Anti-epileptic drugs widely used:
    *Lamotrigine is not widely used because of cost (6 times more than CBZ).

Areas of possible cooperation

We welcome partners across the globe who are willing to work with us in research, capacity building and training.



Sen, A., Mahone, S., Kadzviti, T., Landman, I., Kandawasvika, G., Mataruse, A., & Ngwende, G. (2018). A neurological letter from Zimbabwe. Practical Neurology, 18(3), 255-257. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2018-001914

Mugumbate, J., & Mushonga, J. (2013). Myths, perceptions, and incorrect knowledge surrounding epilepsy in rural Zimbabwe: A study of the villagers in Buhera District. Epilepsy and Behavior, 27(1), 144-147. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.12.036

WHO/ILAE/IBE (2004). Africa Region Report. Global Campaign Against Epilepsy. Geneva, WHO.


June, 2018