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12 February 2015

World Health Organization prioritises epilepsy

Epilepsy Society's medical director Professor Ley Sander is heartened by a new World Health Organization (WHO) resolution to prioritise epilepsy care for people living with the condition around  the world.

Professor Sander works with WHO's global campaign against epilepsy to improve the way epilepsy is managed in resource-poor countries including China, Brazil, Ecuador, Georgia, Bulgaria, Kenya and Senegal.

Improving epilepsy care and research

He said: 'It's excellent news that the WHO executive board has issued a strong resolution in support of improving epilepsy care and research for people across the globe.  If the resolution is approved,  epilepsy and the issues surrounding it, particularly the effect it has on people's lives, will be firmly in the spotlight.'

More than 60 million people across the world live with epilepsy. Big differences exist in the level of epilepsy management in different parts of the world.  In some resource-poor countries essential anti-epileptic  drugs  are unavailable and there are very few neurologists.  In some countries there is less than one neurologist for a million people.

Next step

The next step is for the resolution to be presented to the WHO General Assembly in May for final approval. If approved it will become a formal policy of the WHO, which has the power to influence health policies of governments in different countries.

Read the 'Global burden of epilepsy and the need for coordinated action at the country level to address its health, social and public knowledge implications.' (opens new window)

Professor Sander is part of a WHO initiative, Mental Health Gap Programme (mhGAP), which aims to ensure that mental health, including epilepsy,  is integrated into health care systems across the globe. He has also been recognised for his pioneering research into epilepsy in developing countries, such as China  and Africa and has been ranked as the world's leading expert on epilepsy.

Epilepsy Society is part of a research group including University College London and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery which is a designated WHO collaborative centre.