Standard operating procedures improve neurological emergency management in a resource-poor sub-Saharan African setting

In this innovative intervention study in Gambia, Jaiteh et al. developed standard operative procedures (SOPs) for the care of common neurologic emergencies based upon syndromic diagnoses for stroke, fever with headache and seizure and found that in both rural and urban settings the availability of SOPs led to more appropriate evaluations and care. Larger studies with longitudinal assessments are likely needed to evaluate the impact on outcomes, but these findings suggest that a key role for the neurologist working in resource limited settings should be developing SOPs of this nature and assisting with implementation nationally.

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

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