World Health Organization unanimously endorses plan to improve epilepsy care and reduce stigma

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Newswise — On May 27, 2022, Member States of the World Health Organization endorsed the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders (IGAP) at the 75e World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Four international organizations and 116 member states voted in favor of the plan, which was adopted unanimously.

IGAP will address the challenges and gaps in the provision of care and services for people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders that exist around the world and ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response across all sectors.

“ILAE is grateful for the attention paid to the needs of people with epilepsy by the WHO, as well as by the Member States that support its endorsement,” said J. Helen Cross, President of ILAE.

In November 2020, the Seventy-third World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA 73.10 to develop IGAP in consultation with Member States. In January 2022, a revised draft was approved at the 150e session of the WHO Executive Board.

The IGAP includes two epilepsy-specific global targets to be achieved by all Member States by 2031:

  • All countries will have increased epilepsy service coverage by 50% from current coverage by 2021.
  • 80% of countries will have developed or updated their legislation to promote and protect the human rights of people with epilepsy.

ILAE has developed a cascade of 90-80-70 actions as part of its roadmap to support the urgent expansion of health and care services for people with epilepsy. The objectives of the cascade of actions are that by 2031:

  • 90% of people with epilepsy are aware that their diagnosis is a treatable brain disorder
  • 80% of people with epilepsy have access to affordable, appropriate and safe anti-epileptic drugs
  • 70% of people with epilepsy receiving treatment achieve adequate seizure control

“We look forward to working with all partners to achieve the goals of IGAP, which will improve the care and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families,” said Dr. Julie Hall, Executive Director of the ILEA.

Areas of intervention

To achieve the global targets, the IGAP includes proposed actions for Member States, the WHO Secretariat and national and international partners in several areas:

Access to epilepsy services – About 70% of people with epilepsy can be seizure-free with treatment. However, treatment gaps exist in all countries of the world. The current estimate of the treatment gap is 75% in low-income countries and is significantly higher in rural areas.

Mobilization and support for people with epilepsy – People with epilepsy and their families are stigmatized and discriminated against because of misconceptions and negative attitudes surrounding epilepsy. This leads to human rights violations and social exclusion. In some settings, children with epilepsy may not be allowed to attend school; adults may not be able to find suitable employment or marry.

Epilepsy as an entry point for other neurological disorders – Epilepsy may be secondary to other neurological conditions, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. It can also happen with other conditions; for example, 19% of people with epilepsy also suffer from migraine and about 26% of adults with epilepsy also have an intellectual disability.

With its support, IGAP will help strengthen prevention, detection, care, treatment and equal opportunity for people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders around the world.

About epilepsy

  • Epilepsy affects people of all ages, genders, races and income levels.
  • Poor people and those living in low- and middle-income countries bear a disproportionate burden of disease that has a significant impact on economic and social development.
  • In many parts of the world, people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination due to ignorance, misconceptions and negative attitudes surrounding the condition. They often face serious difficulties in education, employment, marriage and reproduction.
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is three times higher than in the general population. Significant causes of death and injury include sudden unexpected death related to epilepsy, status epilepticus, burns, drowning and suicide.
  • Excess mortality is higher in low- and middle-income countries and is associated with lack of access to health facilities, significant treatment gaps, and failure to address potentially preventable causes of death. epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy often coexists and can be aggravated by other comorbid health conditions, including other neurological disorders, requiring a synergistic approach.

Learn more about IGAP or view the revised draft.

Contact for interviews or questions: Nancy Volkers, ILAE communication officer

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ILAE is a global organization of healthcare professionals and scientists working for a world where no one’s life is limited by epilepsy.

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