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Traditional Beliefs

Traditional Beliefs

In Sierra Leone, the causes of epilepsy are misunderstood to be demonic, witchcraft or atonement for sins committed by one’s forefathers; it is further believed that people are possessed by supernatural forces which rendered them unable to control their bodily functions and that the condition is transferable through bodily contact of sputum that comes out of a person’s mouth during seizures. Over half of the Sierra Leonean population have the belief that Epilepsy is due to witchcraft or demons or both and two-third have tried traditional healing while a quarter seek faith healing.

The condition is called by different names in Sierra Leone depending on the tribal origin. The Creoles call it ‘fix’, Temne call it ‘katuk’, Mende call it ‘Kpogboni’. Because the perception of witchcraft and demons as a cause of Epilepsy is common among Sierra Leoneans, the treatment is never thought to be scientific but a job for Traditional Healers who employ herbal remedies, rituals, spiritual curse or combinations of all these. Some methods used to cure epilepsy can result in long-term health complications. Example: Scarification of their bodies using unsterilized sharp piercing instruments may lead to infections including tetanus.