We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Campaign calls for western Pacific governments to improve epilepsy services

20 October, 2004

At 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.

The GCAE is a joint project of the World Health Organization (WHO), International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE).

To
bring the issue to the forefront as a health priority, the First
Beijing International Forum for Epilepsy launched the regional report,
"Epilepsy in the Western Pacific Region: A Call To Action". The report
summarises 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
organisations and non-governmental organisations to implement and
support action in six areas:

  • public education
  • community-based control and prevention programmes
  • legislative reform
  • investment in research
  • lay and professional epilepsy organisations
  • information exchange and inter-country cooperation.

Dr Wang Xiangdong, the WHO's Manila-based Regional Adviser in Mental Health, said:

"Epilepsy
is preventable and is treatable with relatively safe and inexpensive
drugs. However, in developing countries about 70 to 90 per cent of
people with epilepsy do not receive appropriate treatment or care.

"Cultural
attitudes, lack of policy prioritisation, 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. 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 per cent of people with this condition could live productive and
fulfilling lives, free from seizures."