Neurological disorders are a significant contributor to the global mortality and morbidity. They are responsible for close to 9 million deaths per year. Whilst it is estimated that globally, about 50 million people suffer from epilepsy alone. Out of this number, 80% live in low- and middle-income countries where only 1 out of 4 has access to treatment.
In Ghana, it is estimated that 1% of the population live with epilepsy, representing 270,000 people, with a treatment gap of 85%.
To address the challenges and gaps in providing care for people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2022 adopted the Intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders (IGAP), which aims to improve access to care and treatment for people living with neurological disorders while preventing new cases and promoting brain health and development across the life course.
As a result, WHO and other partners have been engaging stakeholders to share ideas towards the effective implementation of the Intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and neurological disorders in Ghana.
“There is the need for collaboration between relevant stakeholders – everyone in healthcare at all levels, social care, advocacy and civil organizations, researchers, and academic institutions in a bid to improve services for epilepsy and other neurological diseases are in Ghana”, noted WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr. Francis Kasolo at the stakeholders meeting on epilepsy and other neurological disorders in Ghana.
For Ghana, the Intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders will build on the achievement of the “Fight against epilepsy” initiative rolled out in Ghana between 2012 and 2016, which provided treatment and care to over 2,700 people living with epilepsy who were previously not diagnosed.
“We have seen what we can achieve if we work together. Therefore, the Ministry of Health will continue to work with WHO and other partners to aggressively pursue interventions that improve the lives of people epilepsy and other neurological disorders”, says Dr (Mrs) Joycelyn Azeez, Director of Pharmacy, Ministry of Health.
The country is also benefiting from other WHO-led interventions such as the mental health gap action programme (mhGAP), which is aimed at training non-specialist health workers to diagnose and manage mental, neurological and substance use conditions.
The IGAP is a comprehensive programme that outlines five strategic objectives, each comprising two targets, which countries should achieve by 2031.