Epilepsy :: A call to improve treatment, services and prevention of epilepsy

With the launch of a new report, the Global Campaign Against Epilepsy (GCAE) is urging governments to improve treatment, services and prevention of epilepsy in the Western Pacific Region.

Epilepsy is the most serious common neurological disorder, with a conservative estimate of 50 million people worldwide suffering from the condition. Of these, 80% are believed to live in developing countries.

To bring the issue to the forefront as a health priority, the First Beijing International Forum for Epilepsy will launch the regional report, “Epilepsy in the Western Pacific Region: A call to action”, on 21 October at the Beijing Central Garden Hotel. The report summarizes the current situation concerning epilepsy, its public health impact, past and present activities in community-based control, and directions for further action.

The call for action urges governments, international and regional organizations and nongovernmental organizations to implement and support actions in six areas:

public education
community-based control and prevention programmes
legislative reform
investment in research
lay and professional epilepsy organizations
information exchange and intercountry cooperation

“Epilepsy is preventable and is treatable with relatively safe and inexpensive drugs,” said Dr Wang Xiangdong, the World Health Organization’s Manila-based Regional Adviser in Mental Health. “However, in developing countries about 70 to 90% of people with epilepsy do not receive appropriate treatment or care.”

Cultural attitudes, lack of policy prioritization, poor health systems and inadequate supply of anti-epileptic drugs are barriers to appropriate treatment.

“Epilepsy imposes enormous physical, psychological, social and economic burdens on individuals, families and countries, especially due to misunderstanding, fear and stigma,” said Dr Wang. “While these problems are universal, they are greatest in the developing world.”

Effective and cost-efficient treatments are available. If properly treated, up to 70% of people with this condition could live productive and fulfilling lives, free from seizures, Dr Wang said.

The report was developed by the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, WHO Headquarters, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE).

Leave a Comment