Big gaps in epilepsy careBy Rafael Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We’d like to congratulate the organizers and participants in the recently concluded Asian Oceanian Congress on Epilepsy hosted by our local neurologists. Six doctors including our own Dr. Leonor Cabral-Lim were recognized for their extraordinary contributions in epilepsy care.
The congress was sponsored by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), through the Philippine League Against Epilepsy, and was held last March 22-25 at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia Complex, Manila.
More than a thousand local delegates were joined by delegates from India, China, Indonesia, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Nepal as they tackled important issues and updates on epilepsy care.
Experts lament that epilepsy in many countries in the world, including ours, is receiving very little government attention in the past decades. Priority has always been given to other “high-profile” and “urgent” problems like heart disease, cancer, dengue fever and other infectious diseases. Not that the interest and focus given these diseases are inappropriate, for truly noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are fast becoming the bane of mankind, but diseases like epilepsy should also be given the rightful attention it deserves.
Based on surveys 80 percent of people with epilepsy are in resource-poor, developing countries. Epilepsy care in these countries remains limited and the sad fact stares the government and all those involved in epilepsy care in the face that the majority of epilepsy patients go untreated.
In an effort to compensate for the lack of government attention given epilepsy, several private organizations aim to address various concerns on epilepsy care, but it is still not enough. The ILAE epilepsy congress hopes to fill in the gaps in epilepsy care as it aims to encourage research and develop the interest further for a better understanding of various aspects in epilepsy care. Best practices of various sectors in the country and other Asian nations in improving the quality of epilepsy care are also discussed, from which each one could learn and try to adopt in their own respective countries.
Various symposiums, developed by local and regional committees of the International Bureau for Epilepsy, were conducted during the event, featuring speakers from the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries. Some of the topics discussed were “Seizure aggravation by antiepileptic drugs: a view from genetics” by Prof. Samuel Berkovic, M.D. (Australia); “Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures: treatment and outcome” by Dr. Ennapadam Krishnamoorthy (India); “The burden of epilepsy in the Asian-Oceanian region” by Dr. Byung-in Lee (Korea); and “Delivery, breastfeeding and child rearing in women with epilepsy” by Dr. Leonor Cabral-Lim (Philippines).
Addressing the yawning gaps in epilepsy care is truly a gargantuan challenge. Cost-effective, sustainable epilepsy care services, delivering first-line antiepileptic drugs through established primary healthcare facilities, are urgently needed to decrease these treatment gaps. Public health education is of utmost importance to dispel wrong notions of the disease, like it’s the result of witchcraft, or a curse that could not be medically addressed. Neurologists and other heatlhcare workers with local experience and knowledge of the culture, must volunteer as educators, and give guidance to policy makers. By serving as committed and unrelenting advocates like Dr. Cabral-Lim, they can make a big difference.
A highlight of the event was the Asian and Oceanian Outstanding Achievement Epilepsy Award (AOEA), which was introduced by the Commission of Asian and Oceanian Affairs (CAOA) of the ILAE in 2010 to recognize medical or nonmedical professionals who have shown great effort and have exerted great contributions in improving the quality of epilepsy care.
Aside from Dr. Cabral-Lim, the other doctors who received the award were Doctors Yushi Inoue of Japan, Sunao Kaneko of Japan, Kuruppath Radhakrishnan of India, Pongaskdi Visudhiphan of Thailand and Liwen Wu of China.
Another Filipino who was recognized in the congress was Baldwin Kho, a young artist with epilepsy, whose passion to teach art to children and contribute his time and resources to humanitarian undertakings were recognized.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=50635