Introduction from Dr Markus Reuber, editor-in-chief of Seizure
Seizure 11/1 has published a Letter to the Editor - The Written Declaration on Epilepsy: An important achievement for Europe and beyond.
At present, the European Union attracts a stream of negative publicity, often relating to ‘red tape’ or the poor state of its members' finances. This means that the good and useful work of EU institutions - such as the protection of human and consumer rights, the freedom of movement, or support for medical research - are easily overlooked.
The Written Declaration on Epilepsy is a good thing which has come ‘from Europe’. That is, it can be a good thing if people with epilepsy, their families, carers and doctors as well as people interested in epilepsy research and healthcare policies, education and the provision of public services make it so.
Europeans have to use it to persuade their governments, healthcare, education and public service providers and research funding bodies to work harder to reduce discrimination and stigma related to epilepsy as well as the social, medical and personal burden related to the disorder.
Professor John Duncan, Professor of Neurology at the Institute of Neurology of University College London writes:
"Epilepsy has a low profile in health care: poorly understood, underfunded and stigmatizing. Yet, it is the most common serious disorder of the brain and affects over five million Europeans.
"The decent European Declaration on epilepsy is a crucial step forward with recognition of the complexities and needs of those with the condition. It is essential that the Declaration is not just symbolic, but is followed through by action and implementation of improved health and social care by member states.
"Further, epilepsy research is underfunded throughout Europe and an increased prominence of epilepsy related topics in the EU FP7 Program for Health research in 2013 would be of major importance and a great opportunity to improve the situation."