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22 July 2015

Epilepsy in the spotlight on World Brain Day

Today is World Brain Day (22 July) and this year's focus is epilepsy. The day is organised by the World Federation of Neurology and is part of their global campaign to raise awareness of brain and neurological diseases.

Epilepsy Society welcomed the decision to turn the spotlight on the condition. Epilepsy was chosen as this year's theme because it is the most common chronic serious brain condition with more than 50 million people living with epilepsy worldwide.

The theme also lends weight to the momentum already gathering behind affording greater priority to epilepsy, with the World Health Organization's (WHO) recent call for coordinated efforts to address health, social and public knowledge implications of epilepsy. Earlier this year Epilepsy Society's medical director Professor Ley Sander was heartened by the WHO's resolution on epilepsy

Professor Sander works closely with the World Health Organisation's (WHO) global campaign against epilepsy (PDF 212KB) to improve the way epilepsy is managed in resource-poor countries, including China, Brazil, Ecuador, Georgia, Bulgaria, Kenya and Senegal, where up to 90% of people with the condition may not be properly diagnosed or treated.

Sarah Vibert, Director of Strategy and External Affairs at Epilepsy Society said:

"We welcome the theme chosen for this year's World Brain Day as it is vital to keep epilepsy in the spotlight so that the care and treatment of people with epilepsy around the world can continue to improve."

The World Federation of Neurology, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) will run organised activities and media events to mark the day. More information is available on the WFN website.

Epilepsy around the world

Epilepsy affects over 60 million people worldwide, with the majority living in low and middle income countries where access to medical treatment may be limited. Professor Ley Sander works with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) global campaign against epilepsy to improve the way epilepsy is managed in resource-poor countries including China, Brazil, Ecuador, Georgia, Bulgaria, Kenya and Senegal.

Research suggests that globally the number of people with active epilepsy seeking treatment would increase by 11 per cent if they believed anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) were effective; by 12 per cent if health facilities providing AEDs were less than 20km from their homes; and by 40 per cent if AEDs were free. Our epilepsy group is recognised as a WHO Centre of Excellence.

Brazil - In Brazil, epilepsy management has now been incorporated into the family medicine programme and has reached a third of Brazilian munciapalities.
China - The Chinese government has committed to establishing a network of epilepsy centres across the country.
Africa - Ten million people in Africa are affected by epilepsy and 80% are not treated with modern medicine. New projects are being carried out to characterise and understand epilepsy in each of the regions of Africa.
Georgia - The epilepsy group has been looking at the knowledge, attitudes and stigma towards epilepsy in Tbilisi, Georgia. In a survey of 1000 people, 75% wouldn’t allow their children to marry someone with epilepsy.

Related information:

Professor Ley Sander's work with the World Health Organisation (PDF 212KB)
World Health Organization's (WHO) global campaign against epilepsy