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Epilepsy care rolls into rural India

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    Here in India, we hear a familiar but sad story every day: growing numbers of people are being diagnosed with epilepsy.

    The problem is that 70% of India’s population is rural and the prevalence of epilepsy in these areas is higher than in urban locations. Not only can epilepsy get in the way of living a full life but patients also face social stigma due to misunderstanding of the disease.

    At UCB, we looked at the poor diagnosis and treatment facilities in areas where they are needed most and we decided to do something about it. India is vast and we do not expect to solve such enormous problems alone – yet we feel compelled to make a start.

    That is why we are rolling out "Hope On Wheels", a comprehensive mobile health centre that provides diagnosis, treatment and education about epilepsy in rural India.

    The project, operating as a not-for-profit organisation, was officially launched in the presence of HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium during the Belgian economic mission to India. A pilot project will focus on the rural Rajasthan area.

    The mobile health clinic (MHC) is a vehicle equipped with necessary diagnostic and treatment tools with a team comprising of clinical and technical experts and social workers. It will also have video conferencing facility to enable consultation with top city-based neurologists.

    In addition, "Hope on Wheels" will also provide patient, family and community support with regular follow-up consultations as well as social worker visits to monitor adherence to treatment and identify potential adverse events.
     
    Through education and social worker efforts, it also aims to transform the perception of epilepsy in rural India.

    The project has the support of both the Indian Epilepsy Association and the Indian Epilepsy Society and its activities will be organised in close collaboration with State and local authorities.

    UCB has a strong commitment to Corporate Societal Responsibility in the field of epilepsy with projects around the world. With "Hope on Wheels", we hope to touch the lives of more than 50,000 patients and their caregivers in Rajasthan through continuous support and counseling.

    Perhaps a few years down the road, it would be great to see several such mobile epilepsy centres serving other parts of rural India, delivering Hope from village to village.

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