Assuming a prevalence of 10 per 1000, there are an estimated 15 million people with epilepsy in the 11 Member Countries of the WHO South-East Asian Region (which encompasses the IBE South East Asia and Western Pacific regional structure). More than 80% of these people live in rural areas where appropriate services for neurological disorders are very limited.
In 2005 the WHO Regional Office in South East Asia reported that the magnitude of the problems of epilepsy and the huge treatment gap, as well as its considerable social and psychological impact in the region would make it imperative for all countries to develop a national strategy for the prevention and control of epilepsy with the ultimate objective to improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy.
WHO SEARO launched an initiative to deliver at least minimum services for neurological disorders in the community, using community-based health care providers; epilepsy was one of the conditions included in this initiative. Projects were initiated in the following countries:
A country survey identified epilepsy as one of the 3 most common neuropsychiatric disorders. Nurses and other health workers were trained in the identification and management of epilepsy under the AusAid programme. However since the AusAid programme concluded in 2005, WHO SEARO intends to carry forward this programme using its technical material.