Mental health

WHO highlights scarcity of treatment for epilepsy in low-income countries

Photo by Pranab Basak (with permission of the International Bureau for Epilepsy)

20 June 2019 – Three quarters of people living with epilepsy in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need, increasing their risk of dying prematurely and condemning many to a life of stigma. The findings are published in “Epilepsy: a public health imperative”, released today by WHO and leading nongovernmental organizations for epilepsy, the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy.

International Epilepsy Day

Dirk Teuwen, UCB

8 February 2019 - International Epilepsy Day, celebrated each year on the 2nd Monday of February, is an opportunity to raise awareness of epilepsy, what it is, how it can be treated, and what is needed to bring treatment to all people who need it.

The ability of health workers to diagnose epilepsy, the availability of medicines and research into the health and social care response to epilepsy are just three areas of action for WHO and partners.

Scaling up epilepsy care in Myanmar

Dirk Teuwen, UCB

8 February 2019 – In Myanmar, it is estimated that around
500 000 people live with epilepsy, many of whom do not receive the care they require. The Myanmar Epilepsy Initiative is bringing quality treatment and care to people living with epilepsy. A collaboration between WHO and Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports, the Initiative is now being scaled up to provide access to quality, affordable care in five states/regions across the country.

WHO Information Kit on Epilepsy: What you can do

29 September 2015 - The Global Information Kit on Epilepsy has been developed as part of the WHO Programme on Reducing the Epilepsy Treatment Gap to support implementation of WHA68.20 recommendations. It provides general information about epilepsy, an overview of current pilot projects as examples of what can be achieved, and actions that can be taken by specific stakeholder groups with reference to WHA68.20. The intended audiences for the Global Information Kit on Epilepsy are policymakers, specialist and non-specialist health care providers, people living with epilepsy and their families, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the general public.


fact buffet


50 millionAround 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.

Fact sheet: epilepsy

Treatment gap

3/4Three quarters of people with epilepsy in low-income countries do not get treated.

Fact sheet: epilepsy

Epilepsy cost

US$ 5 People can live seizure-free with effective medicines for as low as US$5 per person each year.

Fact sheet: epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common chronic brain disease and affects people of all ages. More than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy; nearly 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries.

An estimated 70% of people with epilepsy could be seizure free if properly diagnosed and treated, yet about three quarters people with epilepsy in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need. Furthermore, people with epilepsy and their families frequently suffer from stigma and discrimination.

WHO is working with ministries of health and partners to improve access to treatment for epilepsy.

Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020

The action plan recognizes the essential role of mental health in achieving health for all people. It aims to achieve equity through universal health coverage and stresses the importance of prevention.

Dementia Action Plan 2017-2025

The global plan aims to improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and the people who care for them, while decreasing the impact of dementia on communities and countries.

WHO’s first Global Epilepsy Report

WHO, in collaboration with the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE), will release the first Global Epilepsy Report in 2019. To support investment in reducing the burden of epilepsy, the report calls for accelerated action to make epilepsy a public health priority.