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China launches epilepsy care program

chinadaily.com.cn

A program to improve medical care for children with epilepsy in China and to provide psychological support to their families was launched over the weekend.

The three-year project, jointly launched by Project Hope, a public service project, and Belgium biopharmaceutical company UCB, aims to increase public awareness of epilepsy to reduce the social stigma associated with the disease.

The project will provide health education and professional training for pediatric neurologists on advanced epilepsy clinical diagnosis through a network of 10 children’s hospitals nationwide.

According to the World Health Organization, there are about 50 million people with epilepsy in the world and 42.5 million of them are in developing countries. In China, there are 9 million people with epilepsy and about 400,000 new cases of seizures and epilepsy occur each year.

The standard of care for epilepsy patients varies widely across the nation and it’s estimated that about 50 percent of people with epilepsy do not receive adequate care due to a lack of relevant knowledge in the workplace, at schools and in the wider community, experts said.

“Patients with epilepsy deserve the same quality of care and respect as any other patient. In China, there is a lack of understanding about the disease and how to manage it. This can be especially difficult for young patients who suffer from discrimination in a society that is ill-informed about the disease, so epilepsy is also a public health and social problem,” said Li Shizhuo, chairman of the China Association Against Epilepsy, and the senior consultant of the program.

The project will also develop written materials for children, parents, pediatricians, neurologists, teachers, the public and media to create a deeper understanding of the disease, emergency care and other special needs of patients.

“We believe that a deeper understanding within the medical community, the school system and local communities of the unique needs of pediatric epilepsy patients will improve the lives of children with epilepsy and their families,” said Stuart Myers, senior vice-president of Project hope.