Geneva, June 21: 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.
The findings are published in “Epilepsy, a public health imperative” released on Thursday by WHO and leading nongovernmental organizations for epilepsy- the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy.
“The treatment gap for epilepsy is unacceptably high, when we know that 70 pc 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.
The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than in the general population. In 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.
Roughly half of adults with epilepsy have at least one other health condition. The most common are depression and anxiety: 23 per cent of adults with epilepsy will experience clinical depression during their lifetime and 20 per cent will have anxiety. Mental health conditions such as these can make seizures worse and reduce quality of life. Development and learning difficulties are experienced by 30-40 per cent of children with epilepsy.(UNI)