TheWorld Health Organization’s(WHO)131 MemberStates have unanimouslyapproved the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders (IGAP) at the 75thWorld Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.Governments around the world will now be tasked with responding to the recommendations, potentially bringing about international changes in policy and practice for epilepsy. 

What will the IGAP achieve? 

This is the first time that epilepsy and other neurological disorders have been recognised as a distinct field by the WHO, representing a unique opportunity for changes to policy and practice that will undoubtedly inform future research into epilepsy and brain health.

Importantly, the IGAP has highlighted the imperative of research into epilepsy, with one of its key strategic objectives being to ‘…foster research and innovation and strengthen information systems.’

The IGAP will cover a 10-year period from 2022-31 and will build on existing global resolutions, commitments and reports which have previously highlighted the challenges presented by epilepsy:

  • There are 65 million people worldwide and 600,000 people in the UK with a known diagnosis of epilepsy
  • Up to 70% of people with epilepsy could live seizure-free if properly diagnosed and treated
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than for the general population
  • The cost of epilepsy on the NHS is estimated to be at least £2 billion annually 
  • There are a staggering 100,000 emergency admissions due to epilepsy each year

How are the epilepsy and research communities responding? 

As the only UK charity dedicated to driving and enabling research into epilepsy, Epilepsy Research UK is preparing to leverage the momentum of the IGAP and other recent initiatives. By bringing together those working in epilepsy and those affected by epilepsy to develop a programme of work, the aim is to radically advance research through investment, collaboration and action.

As a first step, a national epilepsy research collaborative, led by three of the UK’s leading clinicians and researchers – Professor Helen Cross OBE (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor Mark Richardson (King’s College London) and Professor Tony Marson (The Walton Centre, University of Liverpool) will identify and prioritise a programme to drive research breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments and prevention of epilepsy.

The #Every1EndingEpilepsy programme will provide a road map to the UK government to enable them to implement the recommendations from the IGAP and will be supported by a strategic communications campaign led by people affected by epilepsy. The campaign will seek a commitment from the government to a research investment of £100 for each of the estimated 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK. That’s £100 for every 1 in 100 – a £60 million accelerator fund.

#Every1EndingEpilepsy will raise public awareness of the impact of epilepsy and demonstrate how, by working collaboratively, we can bring about a radical change within a generation

Watch our short film to understand more about #Every1EndingEpilepsy here

Read Professor Helen Cross’s blog on the IGAP here.