Original Research

Initiating clozapine treatment service and characteristics of clozapine-treated patients in a general hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Solomon Teferra
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 26 | a1418 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v26i0.1418 | © 2020 Solomon Teferra | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 June 2019 | Published: 24 June 2020

About the author(s)

Solomon Teferra, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Background: At least one-third of patients with schizophrenia suffer from treatment-resistant schizophrenia needing treatment with clozapine. This is the first report on the experience of initiating clozapine service in Ethiopia.

Aim: The aim of this study was to report the experience of setting up clozapine service and describe characteristics of patients treated with clozapine.

Setting: This study was conducted in a general hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Methods: Descriptive summary of the clozapine treatment service and review of characteristics of patients treated with clozapine were conducted. Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Scale and Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) score were used to measure outcome. Quantitative data were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 24.

Results: It was possible to provide clozapine treatment in a general hospital using the national guideline. During the first year of initiation of the service, a total of 22 patients were treated. The majority were men (20/22, 90.9%) and in the age group of 30–44 years (11/22, 50%). Indications for clozapine were treatment-resistant schizophrenia (15/22, 68.2%) and tardive dyskinesia (7/22, 31.8%). The average dose of clozapine was 350 mg/day. Common side effects included sedation, constipation and excessive salivation. On CGI Scale, mean severity index score dropped from 5.18 at admission to 3.68 during discharge, and average AIMS score changed from 16.8 to 6.5. None of the patients developed agranulocytosis; however, three patients discontinued because of adverse effects.

Conclusion: Establishing clozapine treatment service was possible in a general hospital in Ethiopia where psychiatric service run by psychiatrists was available. Mechanisms should be in place to ensure adherence to the national guideline.


clozapine; Ethiopia; mental health service; sub-Saharan Africa; treatment-resistant schizophrenia


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