Saturday November 23, 2019

WHO: Millions of People with Epilepsy Reluctant to Seek Treatment Because of Stigma

Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy

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Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy. The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life. VOA

The World Health Organization says millions of people with epilepsy are reluctant to seek treatment because of the stigma attached to their ailment, leading to the premature death of many.  WHO has released the first global report on epilepsy.

Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy.  The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life.  It says this brain disease can cause seizures and sometimes loss of awareness.

Program Manager in WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Tarun Dua says people with epilepsy suffer widespread stigma and discrimination as a consequence of their unusual behavior.

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Low doses of topiramate may also increase the risk of oral clefts but to a lesser extent. Wikimedia Commons

“So, in many settings, people with epilepsy they are embarrassed…children are not allowed to go to school, adults are not allowed to work, sometimes not even marry or the right to drive is also not there,” said Dua. “So, these stigma and human rights violations and sometimes also the death that is associated with epilepsy—so premature mortality in epilepsy is three times that of the general population.”

Causes of epilepsy include injury around the time of birth, brain infections from illnesses such meningitis or encephalitis and stroke.  WHO estimates 25 percent of cases are preventable.

Dua says early death among people with epilepsy in low and middle-income countries is significantly higher than in wealthy countries.  She says the stigma associated with epilepsy is a main factor preventing people from seeking treatment.

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The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life. Wikimedia Commons

She says low cost, effective medication to treat the disease is largely unavailable in poor countries as are the number of specialists competent to deal with this brain disorder.

ALSO READ: Researchers Identify Gene Associated with Sudden Death in Epilepsy

“For example, if you look in low and middle-income countries, there is only one neurologist per one million population,” Dua said. “Now, that is definitely insufficient to provide care for all people with epilepsy.  What it means is that we need the non-specialists, the primary care doctors to take care for people with epilepsy.”

Dua says WHO has the tools and evidence-based guidelines that show epilepsy can be successfully treated in primary health care.  She says pilot programs introduced in Ghana, Mozambique, Myanmar, and Vietnam are making huge inroads in closing the epilepsy treatment gap. (VOA)

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Indian Kids on Better Global Average for Physical Activity: WHO Study

Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls' participation in physical activity

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To achieve these benefits, the WHO recommends for adolescents to do moderate or vigorous physical activity for an hour or more each day. Wikimedia Commons

While physical inactivity among children aged 11 to 17 is widespread, Indian kids still fare better than the global average, according to a WHO study.

The research, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, showed that 80 per cent of school-going adolescents globally did not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day — including 85 per cent of girls and 78 per cent of boys.

But compared to the global average, the level of physical inactivity was found to be lower in countries like India and Bangladesh.

While 72 per cent of boys in India were found to be insufficiently active in 2016, 63 per cent boys were insufficiently active in Bangladesh.

At 64 per cent, the boys in the US fared even better than those in India and Bangladesh.

For girls too, the lowest levels of insufficient activity were seen in Bangladesh and India, and are potentially explained by societal factors, such as increased domestic chores in the home for girls.

Lower level of insufficient activity among boys in India may be explained by the strong focus on national sports like cricket, said the study.

The study, based on data reported by 1.6 million 11 to 17-year-old students, found that across all 146 countries studied between 2001-2016 girls were less active than boys in all but four (Tonga, Samoa, Afghanistan and Zambia).

The authors said that levels of insufficient physical activity in adolescents continue to be extremely high, compromising their current and future health.

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While physical inactivity among children aged 11 to 17 is widespread, Indian kids still fare better than the global average, according to a WHO study. Pixabay

“Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” said study author Regina Guthold from WHO.

The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle during adolescence include improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardiometabolic health, and positive effects on weight.

ALSO READ: Microsoft Among Other Firms in US Allowed to Sell Software to Huawei

There is also growing evidence that physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive development and socialising. Current evidence suggests that many of these benefits continue into adulthood.

To achieve these benefits, the WHO recommends for adolescents to do moderate or vigorous physical activity for an hour or more each day. (IANS)