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In Europe, at least 6 million people have epilepsy, and 15 million Europeans will have one seizure at some time in their lives. Nevertheless, in some countries of Europe, epilepsy is not recognized as a brain disorder, and up to 40% of people with this condition may be untreated – the treatment gap.

Epilepsy is a treatable condition and relatively cheap medication is available. Professionals who treat people with epilepsy, however, often do not have sufficient specialized knowledge of the condition, and, in some countries, antiepileptic drugs are not always available or are not affordable and diagnostic facilities are lacking or are inadequate. It has been estimated that the 6 million people with active epilepsy in Europe cost over € 20 billion per year, and despite this, very few European countries have national plans for managing the disorder.

Epilepsy continues to take its toll, impairing the physical, psychological and social functioning of those affected and equally causes serious psychological, social and economic consequences for their families. People with epilepsy, and sometimes their family members, are often stigmatized, generating a hidden burden which discourages them from seeking the diagnosis and care they require. Stigma leads to discrimination and it is not uncommon for people with epilepsy to be denied access to education. Discrimination of people with epilepsy in the workplace is not anusual.

The 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe deserve the right to be treated appropriately. They want the treatment to be available, accessible, affordable and of good quality as this is their human right. The 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe want appropriate information about their condition, the restrictions and the possibilities. The 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe want to go to school, to obtain employment and to develop relationships, like any other European man or woman.

The 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe want the misconceptions, prejudice and subsequent stigma to be eliminated through public education programmes. The 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe want to bring epilepsy “out of the shadows”.

The ILAE/IBE/WHO Global Campaign Against Epilepsy is working towards this goal. Let’s bring epilepsy out of the shadows, on behalf of and with the 6 million people with epilepsy in Europe.

This regional report for Europe provides a panoramic view of the present epilepsy situation in the Region, outlines the initiatives taken by the Global Campaign partners to address the problems, define the current challenges and offers appropriate recommendations. It is an advocacy tool and an instrument for dialogue with governments, consumer associations, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions and development partners. We believe that it would help countries in developing activities to combat stigma, restore dignity and reduce the treatment gap for people with epilepsy in the region.

Hanneke M. de Boer,
Co-ordinator, Global Campaign Against Epilepsy
SEIN – Epilepsy Institute in the Netherlands

Click here to download this report.