Neurological diseases are a major contributor to global mortality and morbidity. They are responsible for nearly 9 million deaths each year. While it is estimated that around 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy alone. Of these, 80% live in low- and middle-income countries, where only 1 in 4 have access to treatment.
In Ghana, an estimated 1% of the population lives with epilepsy, equivalent to 270,000 people, with a treatment gap of 85%.
To address the challenges and gaps in care for people living with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders (IGAP) in May 2022. Improving access to care and treatment for people with neurological disorders while preventing new cases and promoting brain health and development throughout the life course.
As a result, WHO and other partners have encouraged stakeholders to share ideas for effective implementation of the intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Neurological Disorders in Ghana.
“There is a need for collaboration between relevant stakeholders – all healthcare professionals at all levels, social care, advocacy and civil organizations, researchers and academic institutions to improve services for epilepsy and other neurological disorders are in Ghana,” stated the WHO representative for Ghana, Dr. Francis Kasolo at the Stakeholder Meeting on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders in Ghana.
For Ghana, the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders builds on the outcomes of the Fight Epilepsy Initiative, launched in Ghana between 2012 and 2016, which has enabled the treatment and care of over 2,700 people with epilepsy previously undiagnosed.
“We have seen what we can achieve when we work together. Therefore, the Department of Health will continue to work with WHO and other partners to advance interventions that improve the lives of people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders,” says Dr. (Mrs) Joycelyn Azeez, Director of Pharmacy at the Department of Health.
The country also benefits from other WHO-led interventions such as the Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), which aims to train non-specialist health workers to diagnose and manage mental, neurological and substance use disorders.
The IGAP is a comprehensive program that outlines five strategic goals, each with two sub-goals, that countries are expected to achieve by 2031.