helpline 01494 601 400
1 July 2019

World Health Organization calls for action to reduce issues around epilepsy worldwide

A new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls for action to improve healthcare and reduce stigma and discrimination around epilepsy.  

The report, 'Epilepsy, a public health imperative', has highlighted global concerns about epilepsy treatment.

Some overarching messages throughout the report include: the global burden of epilepsy; the stigma and discrimination of the condition; the treatment gap (the number of people with epilepsy who are not receiving appropriate treatments) ; prevention and how the time to act is now.

Key findings

The report highlighted that epilepsy carries an increased risk of premature mortality. This is more prevalent in low-and middle-income countries, compared to high-income countries.

The reasons given include a lack of access to health facilities and preventable causes such as head injuries.

Stigma around epilepsy is also a global issue. It was found to be a significant contributor to poor physical and mental health in people with the condition. Funds need to be directed towards epilepsy awareness and stigma-reduction programmes to decrease discrimination.

To reduce treatment gaps, WHO suggests epilepsy treatment from primary care doctors, like family doctors and GPs, may improve access to healthcare and medicines in poorer areas.

Further research into epilepsy is needed

Th report says that epilepsy research has deepened our understanding of the condition, as it has brought interventions and treatments to improve the management of seizures. However, investment in research for epilepsy is insufficient. The WHO found that in the US, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) support for epilepsy research accounted for less than 0.09% of their total budget.

Prevention strategies were also covered in the report. The preventable cases include brain injuries and stroke which the WHO feel could be tackled through better healthcare.

The report concluded the need to make epilepsy a public health priority and that further action is needed to address epilepsy worldwide.

More information:

To read the full report, please click here.