Official epilepsy side event at the 72nd World Health Assembly

Wednesday 22 May 2019, 12.30-14.00 Palais des Nations, Room XXIV

Co-hosted by:
The Russian Federation, China, Colombia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Slovenia, Tunisia and Zambia
with contributions from the ILAE, IBE and the WFN

IBE - International Epilepsy Support

For more than 20 years the WHO, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) have joined forces to address the needs of people with epilepsy, promote epilepsy care and research worldwide, reduce the treatment gap and fight stigma. The landmark World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on the global burden of epilepsy, unanimously approved in 2015, provides strong support to the cause of epilepsy. The resolution urges the WHO Member States to take coordinated action to address the health, social and public knowledge implications of the disease. It also requests that the WHO provide technical support to Member States for epilepsy management, especially in countries with the least access to services and resources, where the burden of epilepsy is greatest.

However, the implementation of this landmark resolution is still incomplete. Major gaps in awareness, diagnosis and treatment are devastating the lives of millions of people with epilepsy throughout the world. Persons with epilepsy are stigmatized in all societies, with the consequences of prejudice and discrimination adding to the medical burden of the disease.

Following the 2015 Resolution, unprecedented strategic collaborative efforts in epilepsy have emerged. Communication increased among Member States, especially the Russian Federation and China, as well as strong support from many Member States and professional organizations, especially the World Federation of Neurology (WFN).

The first official epilepsy Side Event at the 72nd World Health Assembly:

The side events held annually alongside the WHA are tremendously important because they provide a unique opportunity to highlight specific healthcare domains before WHO Leadership and top level healthcare authorities from all over the world. The number of slots for these side events is limited and they are highly sought after. The ILAE has deployed great efforts to help make this happen.

This side event will bring together policy makers, NGOs, patients, health care leaders and Member States to develop next steps for implementing Resolution WHA68.20.  Ministries of Health from different WHO regions will identify the underlying systemic issues that affect access to universal health care (UHC) and essential medicines for persons with epilepsy in their regions. The newly crafted Global Epilepsy report will be presented, and key directions for an Epilepsy Action Plan will be identified. The speakers will address the barriers to epilepsy care, make recommendations to strengthen systems and practices, and issue a call for urgent action by all key stakeholders nationally and internationally.

Expected Results of the Side Event include:

  • A scaling up of Member States’ political commitment towards addressing the gaps in access to essential health-care services and essential medicines for epilepsy.
  • Identification of factors affecting access to essential medicines, where regulations represent a  barrier to their availability, as occurs in many resource-limited countries.
  • Development of partnerships and initiatives to address the major modifiable risk factors for epilepsy, including perinatal injuries, central nervous system infections, traumatic brain injury and stroke.
  • Presentation of the summary of the Global Epilepsy Report and identification of key directions for the Global Action Plan on epilepsy


Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.
Interpretation from/to Russian and English provided.

Contact: Dr Alexey Novozhilov, Health Attaché The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation
Phone: +41227331870 (O), +41766408703 (M)
E-mail: [email protected]

IBE - International Epilepsy Support