Eradication of stigma, discrimination in the workplace, and inadequate research funding were cited as the three key focus areas requiring rapid improvement across Europe, with the launch of the European White Paper on Epilepsy.
The White Paper has been created by EUCARE (EUropean Concerted Action and Research in Epilepsy) in partnership with both the International Bureau for Epilepsy (of which BEA is a leading member) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), in support of the World Health Organisation's 'Epilepsy Out of the Shadows’ Campaign.
John Bowis, MEP for London, host of the White Paper launch meeting in parliament and a campaigner for improved epilepsy care, stated:
"This initiative is long overdue and provides us with the opportunity to focus our minds on what can and needs to be achieved for those with epilepsy. I cannot stress enough the urgency of action. Everyone, regardless of position in society, can affect the change outlined in this White Paper on Epilepsy."
Professor Martin Brodie, Chair of the ILAE's Commission on European Affairs and Director of the Epilepsy Unit at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow commented:
"The stigma associated with epilepsy is often harder to live with than the condition itself, impacting on many aspects of life, for example, employment. For years epilepsy has been ignored, and I believe this European White Paper on Epilepsy has come at the perfect time. Epilepsy remains notoriously underfunded and misunderstood. This is not a call ‘for’ action, but a call ‘to’ action. Everyone, whether or not they are currently involved in the epilepsy agenda should pick up the banner and support this campaign."
The White Paper on Epilepsy is intended to be a platform on which local epilepsy programmes can be built. The three key recommendations highlighted for change have a European focus and are achievable goals based upon the public health remit of the European Parliament.
John Bowis continues: "For maximum impact, the White Paper must be taken up at local country level where specific areas needing improvement must be identified. We hope that the White Paper can act as a springboard from which local action plans can be developed in accordance with their needs."