Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders that can be effectively prevented and treated at an affordable cost. It is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national nor geographic boundaries.
- There are over 50 million sufferers in the world today, 85% of whom live in developing countries;
- An estimated 2.4 million new cases occur each year globally;
- At least 50% of cases begin at childhood or adolescence;
- 70% to 80% of people with epilepsy could lead normal lives if properly treated;
- In developing countries, 60% to 90% of people with epilepsy receive no treatment due to inadequacies in health care resources and delivery, and due to social stigma.
The disorder may be caused by:
- brain disease or injury such as perinatal or other traumas, infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, vascular disease, degenerative disease, tumour; or
- abuse of alcohol, some drugs or other toxic substances;
- in developing countries many cases of epilepsy are related to preventable parasitic diseases, e.g. neurocysticercosis, malaria, schistosomiasis.
The impact of epilepsy is not only on the person with epilepsy but also the family and indirectly the community are affected. The burden of epilepsy could be due to:
- physical hazards of epilepsy due to the unpredictability of the seizures;
- social exclusion because of negative attitudes of others towards people with epilepsy;
- stigma as children with epilepsy may be banned from school, adults may be barred from marriage, and employment is often denied, even when seizures would not render the work unsuitable or unsafe.
To address this huge burden of epilepsy, the Global Campaign Against Epilepsy was launched to bring epilepsy "out of the shadows".