Mental health

Pilot studies help close the epilepsy treatment gap

8 February 2019 - For more than 20 years, WHO has led the global movement against epilepsy. As part of this commitment, WHO launched the Programme on reducing the epilepsy treatment gap in 2012. The aim of the Programme is to expand the skills of non-specialist health care providers to diagnose, treat and follow up with people with epilepsy. Pilot projects have been implemented in Ghana, Mozambique, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

Dirk Teuwen, UCB

Project teams in these four countries work in collaboration with WHO and ministries of health to bring early detection and treatment closer to where people with epilepsy live. The Programme uses a community-based model of care that can be replicated in other low-resource settings.


  • The pilot project in Ghana helped increase coverage for epilepsy from 15% to 38% in 4 years.
  • In Myanmar, well over 2000 health care providers were trained in assessment, diagnosis and treatment for people living with epilepsy. The Programme is now being scaled up to reach all townships in five states/regions across the country.
  • In Viet Nam, a country of more than 92 million people, it is estimated that approximately 460 000 people live with epilepsy. The Fight against epilepsy initiative reduced the treatment gap by 38% in project sites.
  • Through Mozambique’s pilot project, more than 5000 community awareness sessions were held to reduce the stigma faced by people living with epilepsy and to raise awareness of primary health care services available for affordable epilepsy treatment.

International Epilepsy Day

International Epilepsy Day is celebrated each year on the 2nd Monday of February to promote awareness about epilepsy worldwide.