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International Epilepsy Day 2024

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International Epilepsy Day 2024 : Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects around 50 million people worldwide. It is characterized by recurrent seizures, which are brief episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part of the body (partial) or the entire body (generalized) and are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.International Epilepsy Day is a key initiative that the epilepsy community will use to drive the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s [WHO] 10-year Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders (2022-2031) or IGAP.

International Epilepsy Day, celebrated each year on the 2nd Monday of February, is an opportunity to raise awareness of epilepsy, what it is, how it can be treated, and what is needed to bring treatment to all people who need it. The ability of health workers to diagnose epilepsy, the availability of medicines and research into the health and social care response to epilepsy are just three areas of action for WHO and partners.

IGAP is a ten-year roadmap that contains a specific strategic objective to strengthen the public health approach to epilepsy and two global targets aiming to close the major treatment and inclusion gaps for people with epilepsy worldwide:

  • Global target 5.1: By 2031, countries will have increased service coverage for epilepsy by 50% from the current coverage in 2021.
  • Global target 5.2: 80% of countries will have developed or updated their legislation with a view to promoting and protecting the human rights of people with epilepsy by 2031.

One of the key barriers to achieving these epilepsy specific global targets is the low levels of health literacy and the high levels of misunderstanding and misconceptions about epilepsy.

Key Facts about Epilepsy | WHO

  • Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects people of all ages.
  • Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.
  • Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • It is estimated that up to 70% of people living with epilepsy could live seizure-free if properly diagnosed and treated.
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than for the general population.
  • Three quarters of people with epilepsy living in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need.
  • In many parts of the world, people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination.

This lack of knowledge translates into social stigma and exclusion and leads to the discrimination of people with epilepsy across all levels of society. For example, at work, at school or in the community.

Insufficient understanding of epilepsy can exacerbate difficulties in accessing proper treatment, leading to misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment decisions, and inadequate care provision for individuals with epilepsy and their caregivers. The pervasive stigma attached to epilepsy further discourages affected individuals from seeking the support they need in many parts of the world.Moreover, this lack of awareness impedes the recognition of epilepsy as a priority by policymakers and the allocation of resources towards its management. Specific policies and programs tailored to address the challenges posed by epilepsy remain overlooked.On this EpilepsyDay, our aim is to enhance knowledge about epilepsy across all sectors of society. We encourage individuals living with epilepsy and their caregivers to share their personal journeys with the condition. By fostering this dialogue, we hope to deepen global understanding of the impact of epilepsy.

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