European Epilepsy Day, an initiative of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) supported by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) was launched on 14 February, to coincide with Valentines Day; Valentine being the patron of epilepsy.
To mark the occasion, events were held on 15th February in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, hosted by Gay Mitchell MEP (Member of the European Parliament) and supported by the EEP Group in the European Parliament. Representatives from 26 IBE member associations in 20 European countries were present together with invited MEPs. IBE President Mike Glynn and ILAE President Nico Moshé also attended and the WHO was also represented.
Also taking place in Strasbourg on the 15th February was the official launch of an exhibition titled The Many Faces of Epilepsy, which was launched by EU (European Union) Vice President Mr Edward McMillan Scott.
European Epilepsy Day also provided the platform for the launch of the European Advocates for Epilepsy Working Group, which will be co-chaired by Gay Mitchell MEP. The aim of the working group is to improve the quality of life of all people with epilepsy, their families, care-givers and healthcare providers through European Union policy and by providing a network for the exchange of experience, information and data on epilepsy between all interested stakeholders. Draft Terms of Reference for the European Advocates for Epilepsy Working Group have been prepared and will be considered for approval by the group at its first meeting. You may download the terms of reference by clicking here. However, please note that this is still a working document and should only be viewed as such.
Speaking before the event, IBE President Mike Glynn said: Epilepsy is more than a medical diagnosis. It brings with it serious social, economical, physical and psychological consequences. In launching European Epilepsy Day we plan to bring about real change for the 6 million people living with epilepsy in Europe.
ILAE President Prof Nico Moshé stated: It is important to highlight that epilepsy can be a potentially devastating disorder that can kill.
Gay Mitchell MEP who is hosting the event, commented: By organising to highlight the issue, we hope to bring about an extension of services and support. 70% of those with epilepsy can be assisted to be seizure free but only 40% receive appropriate treatment; this is wholly unacceptable.
Dr Philippe Cupers, Head of Sector Neurosciences, European Commission DG Research and Innovation, speaking at the launch said: the Innovation Union flagship initiative couples research to innovation. It proposes measures to bring the brightest ideas faster to the market, and therefore new drugs faster to the patients. In this context, EU supports collaborative pre-clinical and clinical research on epilepsy, providing opportunities to make discoveries that can benefit human health.
In a message to IBE and ILAE, EU President Jerzy Buzek wrote: I am well aware that epilepsy is a serious health disorder, which affects millions of people in Europe. Therefore I fully support your initiative.