Discussion Group on Education in Epilepsy
Elza Maria Yacubian, Vice Chair of the IBE Regional Executive Committee Latin American (pictured front row, second from the left), reports on a special session on education and epilepsy from the 4th Latin American Epilepsy Congress in Guatemala.
Education is the key to progress. The aim of this group meeting was to discuss how we could implement Education in Caribbean and Latin American countries at various levels.
At first the group identified an important point whose characterization would be essential for implementation of an Educational Program in Epilepsy: there is a necessity to survey how education in epilepsy has been developed in each Latin American country.
For example, in Mexico there are 69 Medical Schools and in the regular 6-year Medical Course only 4 weeks are dedicated to training in Neurology and within this Epilepsy deserves one day or even only one class. In Mexico general practitioners treat epilepsy, but they do not know enough.
The priority should be to have training before graduation since after starting practices they become so involved with their own work that they have no time to attend courses on Epilepsy.
In Nicaragua there is a chronic disease program involving diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy. In El Salvador, 80% of people with epilepsy are attended in psychiatric facilities.
It would be ideal to try to identify the current level of training in epilepsy provided to medical students and professionals allied to medicine (PAMs) in every country of the Caribbean and Latin American region . On the other hand it is also necessary to establish the care available to people with epilepsy in each country.
To whom should courses be given? We suggest the following levels:
- To medical students – this would be the main target for Epilepsy Education. The discussion group called this primary prevention, a term that means good epilepsy care would be given before doctors start practicing;
- To general practitioners – it is not certain whether they would be prepared, would show interest or even have time to undertake the necessary training;
- To PAMs – this program would be variable according to the health system of each country;
- To people with epilepsy and their family members – efforts should be developed in order to increase the number of self-help programs, including education throughout Latin American;
- To the highest level, represented by neurologists, epileptologists and basic scientists. One example of this approach is the first LASSE (Latin America Summer School in Epilepsy) which will take place in São Paulo, on February 4th-10th, 2007. These courses could be extended to other regions of Latin American such as CASSE- Caribbean Summer School in Epilepsy.
Who should prepare the Program on Education? The ILAE, IBE and WHO would work together with the Latin American Commission of Education, which would design the program.
In the near future all these educational activities would be developed through the Latin American Academy integrated by members of both the ILAE and IBE.
The Latin American Academy is gradually becoming a reality and further discussion is planned to take place on the occasion of the LASSE next February (2007).