Three quarters of epilepsy patients don’t get treatment: WHO report

New Delhi: Three quarters of people living with epilepsy in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need, increasing their risk of dying prematurely and condemning many to a life of stigma, revealed a report of the World Health Organisation.

Published in the report titled “Epilepsy, a public health imperative” released on June 20  by WHO  in collaboration with the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy, further revealed that there has been a three-fold rise in the premature deaths of epilepsy patients.

“In the low- and middle-income countries, early death among people with epilepsy is significantly higher than in high-income countries. Reasons for this premature mortality in low- and middle-income countries are likely associated with lack of access to health facilities when seizures are long-lasting or occur close together without recovery in between, and preventable causes such as drowning, head injuries and burns,” the report said.
The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than for the general population, according to the report. “The treatment gap for epilepsy is unacceptably high, when we know that 70% of people with the condition can be seizure-free when they have access to medicines that can cost as little as US$5 per year and can be delivered through primary health systems,” said Dr Tarun Dua, from WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Roughly half of adults with epilepsy have at least one other health condition.

The most common are depression and anxiety: 23% of adults with epilepsy will experience clinical depression during their lifetime and 20% will have anxiety, the report said.

Mental health conditions such as these can make seizures worse and reduce quality of life. Development and learning difficulties are experienced by 30-40% of children with epilepsy.

 

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