It has been just a month since I last wrote to bring you the news on some of the changes being introduced by IBE due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, I mentioned that 2 million people had been affected around the world, with 135,000 deaths. In a matter of just four weeks, those numbers have risen by 50% with few real signs of an early exit in sight. It is likely that life will not return to normal for many more months with social distancing continuing in some form for the foreseeable future.
I advised you at the end of last month that IBE was still open for business, albeit with some changes and restrictions, and this still holds true. We now have a dedicated section on our website www.ibe-epilepsy.org/covid-19-epilepsy-information/ with information on Covid-19 from sources, including WHO, FDA and EMA, as well as information specific to the virus and epilepsy. Some chapters have answered our invitation to share their information with us and these links are also available on the website. If you or your organisation has created material specific to Covid-19 and epilepsy, we would love to hear from you. We would love to hear from you anyway!
As I mentioned last time, arrangements for the regional epilepsy congresses that were due to take place later this year – the Latin American Epilepsy Congress in Medellin, Colombia; the North American Epilepsy Congress in Toronto, Canada; and the Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress in Fukuoka, Japan – were thrown into disarray by Covid-19. All these congresses have had to be postponed and new dates and arrangements are being considered using a largely virtual format. This will allow many more IBE members to attend from home. A virtual congress also provides the possibility of widening the agenda with more educational sessions for people with epilepsy and those who care for them. The congress office will keep us all informed on the details, as they become available, through their regular eZines. You can also keep up to date by visiting the congress website www.epilepsycongress.org.
Other work continues apace at IBE. We recently published the latest issue of IE News, which you can find here: https://www.ibe-epilepsy.org/international-epilepsy-news-is- sue-1-2020/.
YEAH – our online space for young adults under the age of 30 years to meet and chat with others – sees an increasing membership. We would love to see this initiative grow, so please pass on the word to others. You can join YEAH on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ YEAHepilepsy/ and there is a closed page for member discussions www.facebook.com/group/YEAHepilepsy.
We are also finalising decisions on the Promising Strategies Program projects in Africa that will receive support via a grant from the BAND Foundation. I will bring you an update on this initiative in my next letter.
Our partner, the International League Against Epilepsy, has just completed the first round of its Board elections for the period 2021-2025 and IBE sends its congratulations to Prof Helen Cross, who became President-elect. Helen is currently ILAE Treasurer and we look forward to working with her even more closely in her new role.
Finally, if you need some cheering up, can I suggest that you visit the International Epilepsy Day Art Competition gallery, where you can enjoy the inspiring artwork submitted to our competition this year? I think the winning image from the junior section, pictured above, is very appropriate for the situation in which we find ourselves right now: internationalepilepsyday.org/art-com- petition-2020-entries/.
I’ll write again next month.
Stay safe and keep in touch!