Malta has contributed to Fostering Epilepsy Care in Europe report just published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the two international epilepsy organisations, the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). This report was launched during the recent Epilepsy and Society conference which was held in Porto, Portugal last month.

The conference was attended by committee members of the Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association. Dr Janet Mifsud, Vice President International Bureau of Epilepsy and Advisor, Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association, was a contributor to the education section of the report.

The report has been developed as part of the IBE/ILAE/WHO Global Campaign Against Epilepsy (GCAE). The report addresses the current challenges faced in epilepsy care in Europe and offers recommendations to tackle them, as well as providing a panoramic view of the present epilepsy situation across the continent. It provides recommendations to improve the quality of care and understanding of epilepsy, and reduce stigmatisation to help bring epilepsy ‘out of the shadows’.

“We are very excited about this report,” commented Matt Muijen, Regional Advisor for Mental Health and Brain Disorders of the World Health Organization in the WHO European Region. “We believe that the recommendations will help countries to develop activities to combat stigma, restore dignity and reduce the treatment gap for people with epilepsy in Europe. The report is an advocacy tool and an instrument for dialogue with governments, healthcare providers, consumer associations, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and development partners.”

Epilepsy affects more than six million people in Europe but up to 40% of people with the condition may still be untreated. Epilepsy continues to take its toll, impairing the physical, psychological and social functioning of those affected and causing serious psychological, social and economic consequences for their families. People with epilepsy, and sometimes their family members, are often stigmatised, generating a hidden burden which discourages them from seeking the diagnosis and care they require.

Stigma leads to discrimination and it is not uncommon for people with epilepsy to be denied access to education. Discrimination of people with epilepsy in the workplace is also not unusual. Epilepsy is the clearest example of a neurological disorder for which effective, cost-efficient treatment is available. Recent studies show that, if properly treated, up to 70% of people with this condition could be seizure-free and enjoying a higher quality of life. The need for acceptance and access to treatment is paramount. This report not only identifies the current gaps in epilepsy care but provides cogent recommendations to address these challenges.

During the conference, Dr Janet Mifsud was invited to give a talk about adverse effects of antiepileptic drugs. Ms Victoria Dimech, Member of the European Regional Committee for Epilepsy and Secretary Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association, was invited to talk about the social consequences of epilepsy. The Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association also presented a poster on the in-service training being organised for Maltese teachers in conjunction with the Ministry of Education on epilepsy.

To access the report click here.

Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2010 by Promotion Unit