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12-02-2015 | World Health Organization to prioritise epilepsy worldwide

12 February 2015
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The Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) has unanimously approved a strong resolution in support of improving epilepsy care and research worldwide. The resolution is a landmark step forward in on-going worldwide efforts by organisations like the IBE and ILAE to secure an international commitment to tackle epilepsy globally.

The resolution calls on every government around the world to:

  • Consider the specific needs of people with epilepsy in national health policies
  • Introduce and implement national health care plans of action for epilepsy management, paying special attention to people with epilepsy living in conditions of vulnerability, such as those living in poor and remote areas,
  • Integrate epilepsy management into primary health care to help to reduce the epilepsy treatment gap,
  • Train non-specialist health care providers with basic knowledge for the management of epilepsy
  • Improve accessibility and affordability of antiepileptic medicines and include AEDs in national lists of essential medicines
  • Ensure public awareness and education about epilepsy to help to reduce the misconceptions, stigmatization and discrimination regarding people with epilepsy
  • Improve investment in epilepsy research and increase research capacity
  • Engage with civil society and other partners

The new resolution is excellent news for people with epilepsy across the world, especially those in developing regions where epilepsy expertise can be almost non-existent and where the majority of people do not have access to basic AED medications. However, it will have an impact in developed countries, where governments will also be required to put specific plans in place to improve epilepsy services and to tackle the health and social problems associated with the condition.

The next step for this resolution is presentation at the WHO General Assembly in May for final approval. Once approved it will become a formal policy of the WHO so that the fight against epilepsy becomes a truly global effort, like recent efforts on issues like HIV, ebola and TB.

Links:

View the WHO's video on epilepsy

See the WHO's infographics on epilepsy

View the full WHO resolution

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