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Seizing the Opportunity and Uniting for Change: International Epilepsy Day 2024

Posted by
Mike Davis, Global Head of Epilepsy & Rare Syndromes

Today, the second Monday in February, is International Epilepsy Day, a time for all of us to come together in support of our friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbours living with epilepsy, in a concerted effort to achieve meaningful change.

Why is this day important?

Firstly, it serves as a powerful platform to raise awareness about epilepsy. Despite being one of the most common neurological conditions globally, epilepsy continues to be shrouded in myths and stigma. By supporting this day, we contribute to breaking down these barriers, fostering understanding, and promoting empathy within our professional networks and communities.

It’s also an opportunity to stand in solidarity with individuals living with epilepsy and the wider epilepsy community. It is a day to amplify their voices and recognize their resilience in the face of ongoing challenges. As professionals, we can use our platforms to share their stories and experiences and drive greater awareness about epilepsies and the importance of a supportive and inclusive society.

Today, we also need to place policy change firmly on the agenda. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) outlines critical targets that, if met, can help transform the landscape for individuals living with epilepsies. In this era of global connectivity, it's imperative that we rally together to meet these targets with urgency, to foster a world that champions inclusivity and support.

At the forefront of the IGAP epilepsy targets is improved access to quality healthcare. This calls for a strategic approach at both individual and organizational levels. As professionals, we can advocate for workplace policies that support colleagues with epilepsy and contribute to health initiatives that promote equitable access to diagnosis and treatment. By championing these causes, we can help bridge the gap in healthcare for those in need.

Building healthcare capacity is also integral to the IGAP. This involves investing in training programs for healthcare professionals, ensuring they are well-equipped to diagnose, manage and monitor epilepsy effectively. As advocates, our support can manifest through promoting continued education, fostering collaboration between healthcare institutions and academia, and championing policies that prioritize the development of healthcare infrastructure.

The intersectoral approach of the IGAP recognizes the need for collaboration beyond the confines of the healthcare system. Advocacy for policies that protect the rights of individuals with epilepsy is a key target, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in education, employment, and societal participation. By supporting this aspect of the plan, we contribute to dismantling barriers and creating a society where everyone, regardless of their neurological condition, can flourish.

Epilepsy demands a concerted effort to achieve meaningful change, and International Epilepsy Day calls on all of us to unite in support of those affected. Seizing this opportunity can create a ripple effect of positive change. Achieving the epilepsy targets set by WHO IGAP is not just a responsibility of healthcare professionals and the epilepsy community; it's a collective duty for all of us. Together, we can be catalysts for positive change and create a world where individuals with epilepsy thrive with dignity and support.

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