Today, 14 February, isn’t just Valentine’s Day – it’s also International Epilepsy Day for 2022.
This international day is the perfect occasion to raise awareness of epilepsy in more than 120 countries worldwide. Notably, we celebrate International Epilepsy Day every year on the second Monday of February. Yet, this year it coincides with Valentine’s Day, and it is only appropriate to learn more about this important disorder.
Knowing more about epilepsy means showing love and appreciation to millions of our fellow citizens that suffer from this condition.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy comes from the Greek word “epilambanein“, meaning to seize, take hold of or attack. We are talking about a neurological disorder that affects brain activity. It causes seizures and can lead to periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, or loss of awareness.
It is estimated that more than 50 million people worldwide live with epilepsy. At the same time, the number of Europeans with epilepsy is at least 6 million. If we consider the number of Europeans that will have at least one seizure in their lives, this number grows up to 15 million. They are of all ages, but it seems that epilepsy is more prevalent in children, adolescents, and older people.
What about treatment?
There are effective and relatively cheap ways to treat epilepsy. 70% of people with epilepsy can live productive and fulfilling lives, but on some rare occasions, epileptic episodes can prove fatal (1 in 1000 people).
Unfortunately, according to WHO, the situation for people with this condition is worse in developing countries. About 90% of patients in developing countries have no access to epilepsy care (treatment gap), and they suffer from a social stigma. This stigmatization severely affects the children’s education and employability of young people or adult’s.
Despite adequate and low-cost treatment for epilepsy, treatment is not always sufficient, and the economic burden is high. These are some of the reasons that this happens:
- Not all health professionals have enough specialized knowledge to treat epilepsy,
- some European countries do not have a national plan to manage this disorder,
- therefore, there is no adequate availability of antiepilectic drugs or they not affordable,
- there not enough diagnostic facilities or are inadequate.
Due to the above reasons, a seemingly easy to handle disorder like epilepsy has an annual treatment cost of € 20 billion. That is without measuring the impact of this disorder on the everyday life of European citizens.
Why the world needs an International Epilepsy Day
The International Epilepsy Day 2022 raises awareness on this condition to improve the situation of people with epilepsy and possibly save some lives.
As we saw, there is still room for improvement for European healthcare systems to offer proper treatment. National governments need to develop national plans to manage this condition better and save money at the same time. Until that happens, epilepsy will continue taking its toll on patients. This includes but is not limited to physical, psychological and social functions with an always looming danger of stigmatization and discrimination.
Finally, more and more Europeans should be aware of what epilepsy looks like and what they need to do in the case of an epileptic episode. Seizures are common, and knowing first aid for seizures can prove helpful someday.
iED has been active lately in advancing the European healthcare ecosystem through Health Hub, with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Particularly, AI seems to have exciting potential for properly diagnosing and interpreting cases of epilepsy.