10 million persons with epilepsy in India

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Task Force Study, in the Bangalore Urban Rural Neuro-Epidemiological Survey (BURNS) covering a population of 102.557, a prevalence rate of 8.8% per 1000 population was observed with the rate in rural communities (11.9) being twice that of urban areas (5.7).

It is estimated that there are more than 10 million persons with epilepsy (PWE) in India. The prevalence rate in our country is 5.35/1000.

Health being a state subject, the number of people suffering from epilepsy, seizure and related neurological impairments in the country, State/UT wise is not maintained centrally. However, as reported by ICMR and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), some of the available statistics are as under:

1. Karnataka (Bangalore; Neuroepidemiology, 2004):Prevalence rate = 8.8 / 1,000

2. West Bengal (Kolkata; Epilepsia 2010): Prevalence rate = 5.7 / 1,000

3. Kerala (Trivandrum, Epilepsia 2000): Prevalence rate of 4.9/1,000

4. Jammu and Kashmir (Srinagar, Epilepsia 1988): Prevalence rate = 2.47/1,000

5. Maharashtra (Mumbai, Parsi community, 1988): Prevalence rate =3.9/1,000

According to WHO estimates, about 50% of the patients in India and other South East Asian countries do not receive treatment. The main reason for not receiving treatment is lack of awareness among the people and associated stigma.

Till now, general facilities for ‘early diagnosis and management’ of epilepsy exist in Government hospitals. Specialized treatment for epilepsy is available in Institutions such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh and National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Sciences, Bangalore. In addition, management of mental disorders including treatment for behavioural and psychological symptoms of epilepsy is also a part of the District Mental Health Programme, being implemented by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in 123 Districts of the country.

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