TANZANIA—Tanzania has taken significant steps to implement the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022-2031 (IGAP), becoming the first African country to do so.

Partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Tanzania Ministry of Health is focusing on epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to identify barriers to medication access and develop interventions for improvement.

This collaborative effort involves local partners, including individuals with firsthand experience, healthcare providers, and representatives from civil society.

Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, WHO Representative in Tanzania, highlights the profound impact of epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease on the country and praises Tanzania’s progress in addressing medication access issues for these conditions.

Tanzania conducted initial IGAP implementation workshops in May 2023, disseminating findings from an assessment of medication access for neurological illnesses.

Subsequent meetings, such as the one in Moshi in September 2023, aimed to ensure continuity of action and assess progress.

Dr. Omary Ubuguyu, Assistant Director for NCDs at the Ministry of Health, emphasizes Tanzania’s commitment to collaborating with WHO to ensure access to affordable medications for neurological illnesses, with a focus on population-wide access to necessary services and support.

The Ministry of Health has achieved significant milestones, including establishing a national coordination committee for epilepsy and other neurological disorders, offering technical support to policymakers and prioritizing these disorders nationally.

Additionally, Tanzania’s Medical Stores Department is proactively procuring medicines for neurological disorders, addressing medication access gaps.

Furthermore, Tanzania’s National Health Insurance Fund package for 2024 now includes several medicines for neurological disorders, reflecting a commitment to elevate Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy as top priorities in public health.

Despite these efforts, significant gaps in diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease persist in Tanzania.

Globally, neurological disorders are a leading cause of disability and mortality, highlighting the importance of well-prepared and supported health systems to provide adequate care.

IGAP aims for 80% of nations to provide essential medicines and basic technology for managing neurological disorders in primary care by 2031, and Tanzania’s initiatives demonstrate progress toward this goal.

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