Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 80

Central nervous system infections such as encephalitis and meningitis can obstruct the brain ’ s electrical activity and cause an imbalance in certain chemical levels in the brain , such as neurotransmitters , producing seizures . Up to 5 percent of epilepsy cases worldwide are cause experience stigma due to misconceptions and misunderstandings fueled by negative public views , myths , and false beliefs about the condition . They are unlikely to get married due to unfounded concerns of heritable transmission of the disease and the social and economic impact that the family might have to bear in managing epilepsy . The WHO cited a study by the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex of the Nigerian female population that revealed that women with epilepsy are more at risk of becoming victims of sexual violence and abuse . The study published in the Epilepsy and Behaviour Journal stated that they also tend to be economically disadvantaged , characterised by living in poor housing conditions compared to women without epilepsy .
Institutionalised stigmatisation has perpetuated discrimination in the epilepsy community regarding access to education , employment opportunities and applying for a driver ’ s license due to misleading knowledge of the cause , characteristics , and genetic factors surrounding epilepsy . Constant marginalisation in all aspects of daily life only drives individuals with epilepsy to detach themselves from the local population , leading to anxiety , depression , and suicide . Moreover , stigmatisation can also affect family and friends by reducing their mental health and quality of life .
Strategies for improving lives of epilepsy community Persistent epilepsy discrimination and treatment disparities in the healthcare system can quickly escalate to a severe public health crisis . Addressing the global burden of epilepsy requires a multifaceted approach that involves improving access to appropriate care , reducing stigma , and increasing education and awareness of the condition . Bridging the epileptic treatment gap is critical for reducing the economic and social consequences of epilepsy .
Enhance public awareness to reduce stigma Currently , there are several initiatives to promote public awareness of epilepsy and minimise the rampant stigmatisation surrounding the condition . WHO spearheaded the Global Campaign Against Epilepsy in 1997 , which is conducted jointly with the International League Against Epilepsy ( ILAE ) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy ( IBE ) that educates the public on epilepsy and encourages governments to strengthen the healthcare system by improving diagnostics and care services and devising prevention-oriented public health policies . The campaign also advocates partnerships and collaborations with relevant stakeholders in reducing the global burden of epilepsy .
The international community observes Purple Day on March 26 annually to encourage an improved understanding of epilepsy in terms of recognising the signs of a seizure and how to support individuals with epilepsy go through their daily activities . Additionally , November is commemorated as Epilepsy Awareness Month , which includes the promotion of epilepsy awareness on social media and investing in research to produce new technology and better treatment options .
Prevention of epilepsy among risk groups Identification of vulnerable groups with a tendency to develop epilepsy is essential to ensure accurate medical intervention and optimise healthcare resources . Nearly 20 percent of cases of epilepsy in children are due to birth complications such as low birth weight , pre-eclampsia , maternal nutrient deficiency , and perinatal infection . Proper prepostnatal care and obstetrics services can reduce the chance of epilepsy development .
An average of 5 percent of epilepsy cases occur among patients with traumatic brain injuries due to road accidents , falls , and assault . Improved safety in terms of traffic and infrastructure is essential to mitigate this risk factor . Studies have shown that stroke is a significant risk factor for epilepsy , particularly in older adults . This is because stroke can damage the brain tissue and disrupt electrical activity , causing seizures . Since stroke is attributed to high cholesterol levels , a healthy diet and active lifestyle must be practised to decrease the risk . In addition , primary healthcare facilities should be fortified to provide timely intervention in treating diabetes and high blood pressure , while discouraging smoking and alcohol consumption .
Central nervous system infections such as encephalitis and meningitis can obstruct the brain ’ s electrical activity and cause an imbalance in certain chemical levels in the brain , such as neurotransmitters , producing seizures . Up to 5 percent of epilepsy cases worldwide are caused by bacterial and viral infections , such as neurocysticercosis caused by pork tapeworm and cerebral malaria , which is more prevalent in LMIC . Local governments must roll out public health measures such as vector control , early screening , improved hygiene , and vaccinations to reduce seizure-inducing communicable diseases .
International collaboration in realising universal health coverage Recently , the World Health Assembly adopted the “ Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders ” to promote a multinational and coordinated effort in combating epilepsy worldwide . A cross-sectoral approach involving health organisations , social protection groups , and labour and education advocates is proposed to provide integrated care for people with neurological disorders . The plan emphasised incorporating universal health coverage ( UHC ) as a comprehensive measure to improve the care and quality of life of individuals with neurological disorders .
78 ISSUE 2 | 2023 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com