Epigraph Vol. 13 Issue 1, Winter 2011

From the Information Officer

Quill Pen

Edward H Bertram
Information Officer

For all who are involved in working with patients with epilepsy and their families, it is well recognized that access to the therapy and social support that are needed for a reasonable quality of life is often difficult. The critical needs vary from country to country, and, within countries, from region to region, but wherever one travels the comments remain the same: the necessary resources don’t exist. Part of the problem arises because epilepsy is rarely viewed as a major public health issue so that other medical problems receive more attention and support. Another cause is the small numbers of professionals with an interest in epilepsy, a problem that affects all countries. One of the League’s goals is to improve access to care and to encourage that the resources needed to address the many problems of epilepsy are made available. Although one’s view about the state of affairs is often pessimistic, from time to time there are stories that inspire hope for the future. In this edition of Epigraph there are several articles that make us think that the future is bright.

Two of the critical factors in assuring that there is access to care are the presence of knowledgeable caregivers and a steady supply of medications. In many regions of the world, both are in short supply, and potential solutions are elusive. Two articles in this issue suggest that with dedication and ingenuity it may be possible to build an effective system for epilepsy care. The histories of the Chilean and Chinese Chapters provide some important lessons. Both started from almost nothing other than a few professionals who wanted to improve the lives of patients with epilepsy. The situations in the two countries were very different, as were the solutions. Key to success was the ability of the epilepsy groups to work with private and public organizations to find ways to move forward. Although in some cases, there were collaborations with international organizations, the drive, work, ingenuity and resources were local.

The lessons learned from the experience in China and Chile are especially important as we welcome our newest Regional Commission to the League’s family. As reported below by Birinius Ezeala-Adikaibe, the Commission on African Affairs was inaugurated in November at a meeting in Dakar, Senegal. At that meeting the Chapters outlined the many challenges that are faced in each country as well as across the entire region. In many of the countries the situation is similar to the conditions in Chile and China before those Chapters became proactive in developing sustainable epilepsy care. The solution for each country will be as unique as each country’s history, culture and system of healthcare. However, there is much to learn from one another and our collective experience as we move forward. As shown in Dr. Hecimovic’s report from Croatia, sometimes the first step is determining the obstacles that we face. 

In Nico Moshé’s report, he emphasizes that the League has many goals, but perhaps the most important is strong and effective Chapters in all countries, Chapters that become the driving force for better epilepsy care. The message in this edition of Epigraph is that there are many ways that we can work to eliminate the fear associated with epilepsy.