WHO sets out action plan on epilepsy

Published: February 21 2022
Last updated: May 12 2023
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has put together a draft ‘Intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders’ for the 10-year period 2022-31.

The goal of the action plan, shared in January 2022, is to reduce the stigma, impact and burden of neurological disabilities, including epilepsy. It also aims to reduce related deaths, linked conditions and associated disabilities. At the same time, the WHO is looking to strengthen prevention, treatment and care for these conditions through the action plan.

The action plan aims to make neurological conditions a higher priority in government policies and promote financial and social protection benefits. It further seeks to help to make sure people get effective and timely diagnoses, treatment and care, as well as include strategies for raising awareness, supporting prevention and fostering research in neurological conditions.

The plan is looking to encourage people-centred care, evidence based policy and involvement of people with neurological conditions and their carers in healthcare.

The draft plan follows a request from the World Health Assembly in November 2020 for the WHO to address challenges and gaps in care and services for people with epilepsy worldwide. It was developed with input from member states.

Gaps in care and services are compounded by “profound health inequity”, according to the action plan. This includes, for example, that nearly four in five people with epilepsy (80%) in the world live in low- and middle-income countries. Three-quarters (75%) of people with epilepsy in low-income countries, and half (50%) of those in middle-income countries do not get the treatment they need, the WHO explained.

According to the WHO, many neurological conditions are preventable, including a quarter of people worldwide living with active epilepsy. The organisation added that as people with neurological conditions experience discrimination and human rights violations globally, this perspective underpins the draft action plan.

The first draft of the plan was put together in 2021. It received feedback from member states, UN agencies, and other non-state representatives, as well as people and carers of people living with neurological conditions. The WHO have prepared a revised draft that has been submitted for review.

For more information and the full draft plan, visit the WHO website.