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27-05-2015 | WHO Resolution on Epilepsy approved at World Health Assembly

27 May 2015
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On Tuesday, 26th May the World Health Organisation (WHO) Resolution on Epilepsy was given final approval at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, with a large number of country statements in favour of the Resolution.

The resolution highlights the need for governments to devise, strengthen and to implement national policies and legislation to promote and protect the rights of people with epilepsy. It also stresses the need to strengthen health information, systems to monitor epilepsy and to measure progress in improving access to care.

A total of 30 oral statements were presented at the Assembly by Member States, speaking in favour of the Resolution and, more significantly, 17 of these countries asked to be co-sponsors. Epilepsy Ireland made a number of approaches to Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health, asking for Ireland to present a statement supporting the WHO Resolution on Epilepsy but did not receive a positive response.

In addition, oral statements were made by International National Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE), International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), WHO, World Federation of Neurology and Health Action International.

What does the Resolution ask for?

The Resolution urges Members States to:

  1. to strengthen effective leadership and governance, for policies on general health, mental health and non-communicable diseases that include consideration of the specific needs of people with epilepsy, and make the financial, human and other resources available that have been identified, as necessary, to implement evidence-based plans and actions;
  2. to introduce and implement, where necessary and in accordance with international human rights norms and standards, national health care plans of action for epilepsy management, aiming to overcome inequalities and inequities in health, social and other related services, paying special attention to people with epilepsy living in conditions of vulnerability, such as those living in poor and remote areas, including by strengthening public health care services, and training local human resources with proper techniques;
  3. to integrate epilepsy management, including health and social care, particularly community-based services, within the context of universal health coverage, including community-based rehabilitation, into primary health care, where appropriate, in order to help to reduce the epilepsy treatment gap, by training non-specialist health care providers to provide them with basic knowledge for the management of epilepsy so that epilepsy can be diagnosed, treated and followed up as much as possible in primary health care settings, as well as by empowering people with epilepsy and their carers for greater use of specified self and home care programmes, by ensuring a strong and functional referral system and by strengthening health information and surveillance systems to routinely collect, report, analyse and evaluate trends on epilepsy management;
  4. to support the establishment and implementation of strategies for the management of epilepsy, particularly to improve accessibility to and promote affordability of safe, effective and quality-assured antiepileptic medicines and include essential antiepileptic medicines into national lists of essential medicines;
  5. to ensure public awareness of and education about epilepsy, in particular in primary and secondary schools, in order to help to reduce the misconceptions, stigmatization and discrimination regarding people with epilepsy and their families that are widespread in many countries and regions;
  6. to promote actions to prevent causes of epilepsy, using evidence-based interventions, within the health sector and in other sectors outside health;
  7. to improve investment in epilepsy research and increase research capacity;
  8. to engage with civil society and other partners in these actions.

What is significant about the Resolution is that it requests the WHO Director General to the Seventy-first World Health Assembly (this will take place in 2018) on progress in the enactment of this resolution. In the meantime, the Director General is requested to:

  1. to review and evaluate actions relevant to epilepsy that WHO has been leading, coordinating and supporting in order to identify, summarize and integrate the relevant best practices with a view to making this information widely available, especially in low- and middle-income countries;
  2.  to develop, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, on the basis of work requested in operative paragraph (1), a set of technical recommendations guiding Member States, in the development and implementation of epilepsy programmes and services, and to provide technical support to Member States in actions for epilepsy management, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Read the WHO Resolution on the IBE website CLICK HERE

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