The International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) has called for Korea to enact the bill to “manage epilepsy and support epilepsy patients” pending at the National Assembly Committee for Health and Welfare.
“The government of the Republic of Korea took part in the unanimous approval of the Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and other neurological disorders in the general assembly of the World Health Organization in May last year,” said Francesca Sophia, chairperson of IBE in a statement on Tuesday.
Stressing that epilepsy is one of the top five causes of neurological disorders and that the government should make it a public health policy priority, the IBE head pointed out that there is no policy to improve the lives of epilepsy patients in Korea.
“Twenty-five percent of epilepsy is preventable, and good planning can improve disease outcomes and patient quality of life,” Sophia said. “However, Korea lacks epidemiological data on epilepsy and indicators on the quality of life and experience of epilepsy patients.”
She went on to say, “In particular, in Korea, patients are discriminated against at school and work due to serious prejudice against epilepsy, she noted. As a result, the quality of life of patients and their families is decreasing due to social stigma, and superstitions and misinformation related to epilepsy are also prevalent.”
The IBE head then called for Korea to enact epilepsy patient-supporting law to prevent discrimination against people with the disease.
“The member countries of WHO are urging their governments to rectify discriminatory laws against epilepsy patients and are striving to protect their human rights,” Sophia said. “Korea, too, should enact the Epilepsy Support Law pending at the National Assembly, setting an example for other WHO members.”
Kim Heung-dong, who heads the Korean Bureau for Epilepsy, also said, “There is a serious lack of social safety nets to protect people with epilepsy. The government should take action as it has adopted the action plan. We will strengthen communication and cooperation across the country to enhance the rights and interests of epilepsy patients and improve their quality of life.
Currently, there are two law bills on supporting epilepsy patients pending at the National Assembly Health-Welfare Committee’s subcommittee for examining law bills, each proposed by Rep. Nam In-soon of the opposition Democratic Party of Korea and Rep. Kang Ki-yoon of the ruling People Power Party. The bills contain ways to prevent and treat epilepsy, protect and support epilepsy patients and research, improve awareness, and prohibit discrimination.
Source: koreabiomed.com, Kim-Ju-yeon