GHANA – The Republic of Ghana, with support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, is engaging healthcare stakeholders to share ideas towards the effective implementation of the Intersectoral global action plan on epilepsy and neurological disorders (IGAP) in the country.
According to WHO, IGAP 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.
The IGAP is a comprehensive programme that outlines five strategic objectives, each comprising two targets, which countries should achieve by 2031.
The action plan was adopted during the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2022 to address the challenges and gaps in providing care for people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
The global public health agency highlights that neurological disorders are a significant contributor to the global mortality and morbidity while noting that 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,” the agency cautioned.
In Ghana, it is estimated that 1% of the population live with epilepsy, representing 270,000 people, with a treatment gap of 85%.
“For Ghana, IGAP 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,” the agency outlined.
Subsequently, WHO and relevant 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.
WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr. Francis Kasolo emphasized that there is dire need for collaboration between relevant stakeholders including everyone in healthcare at all levels, social care, advocacy and civil organizations, researchers, and academic institutions.
Dr. Kasolo further called for concerted efforts to improve services for epilepsy and other neurological diseases in Ghana.
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.