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Epilepsy Around the World

Source: World Health Organization and International League Against Epilepsy

Key Facts about Epilepsy

  • Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disorder of the brain that affects around 65 million people worldwide. Their risk of premature death is two-to-three times higher than for the general population.
  • Epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest recognized diseases. Fear, misunderstanding, discrimination, and social stigma have surrounded epilepsy for centuries.
  • Epilepsy responds to treatment about 70% of the time, (i.e. seizures completely controlled) with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). After two to five years of successful treatment, drugs can be withdrawn in about 70% of children and 60% of adults without relapses.
  • People with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination in many parts of the world.

Epilepsy in Under-Developed Regions

  • Nearly 80% of those with epilepsy live in under-developed regions.
  • The occurrence of epilepsy in developing countries is between 6 – 10 per 1,000. Annual new cases are between 80 – 140 per 100,000. These numbers are roughly twice those found in the developed world.
  • At least 75% of people with epilepsy in developing countries don’t get needed treatment. For example, about 90% of those with epilepsy in Africa go untreated.
  • In many developing countries, there is low availability and high relative cost of anti-epileptic drugs. One study found the average availability of generic AEDs in the public sector to be less than 50%.
  • People with epilepsy face many challenges, including having reduced access to insurance, being denied driver’s licenses, and being barred from certain occupations. In many countries legislation reflects centuries of misunderstanding about epilepsy.

The ROW Foundation's Response to Epilepsy

The ROW Foundation supports the World Health Organization (WHO), the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) in carrying out a global campaign to raise awareness about epilepsy. We are committed to strengthening public and private efforts to improve care and reduce epilepsy’s impact by supporting projects in under-developed regions of the world:

  • to train and educate healthcare professionals
  • to improve the ability of healthcare providers to diagnose and treat epilepsy
  • to reduce the treatment gap and morbidity of people with epilepsy and associated psychiatric disorders

Helpful Links

World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the coordinating authority for health within the United Nations. It provides leadership on global health matters, shapes the health research agenda, sets norms and standards, provides technical support and monitors and assesses health trends. The recent WHO video Epilepsy: Treat It, Defeat It provides an excellent overview of epilepsy around the world.
International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE)

ILAE is the world’s preeminent association of physicians and other health professionals working toward a world where no one is limited by epilepsy. ILAE’s mission is to ensure that health professionals, patients, governments and the public have the education and resources essential to understanding, diagnosing and treating persons with epilepsy.

International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE)
The International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) was established in 1961 as an organization of laypersons and professionals interested in the medical and non-medical aspects of epilepsy. The IBE addresses such social problems as education, employment, insurance, driving license restrictions and public awareness.
American Epilepsy Society
The American Epilepsy Society (AES) is one of the oldest neurological professional organizations in the United States. The Society seeks to promote interdisciplinary communications, scientific investigation and exchange of clinical information about epilepsy.
Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of all people impacted by seizures. The foundation provides programs, services and support in the community. It encourages innovation in new treatments and educates about seizure awareness and first aid as well as advocating for improved rights and regulations for people with epilepsy.

World Federation for Mental Health

WFMH was founded in 1948 to advance the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health. The Federation is the only worldwide grassroots advocacy and public education organization in the mental health field.

World Psychiatric Association

WPA is an association of national psychiatric societies focused on increasing the knowledge and skills necessary for the care of the mentally ill. It presently includes 140 members spanning 120 countries and representing more than 200,000 psychiatrists. WPA promotes the advancement of psychiatry and mental health for all people in the world.