Strategy and plan of action on epilepsy: consultation process in Honduras and Guatemala

This year, the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) will discuss the Strategy and plan of action on epilepsy. This has special significance since it is the first time the issue of epilepsy will be addressed by the ministers of health of the Region. 

The Strategy and plan of action on epilepsy is a necessary document to guide countries on areas of work and to promote care of one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. Epilepsy affects approximately 50 million people worldwide. It is estimated that 60% are not diagnosed or do not have access to proper services and treatment.

The document was prepared by a mental health team of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) with the support of a group of experts from the International League against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE). Currently, it is under consultation in different institutions and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Honduras

An experts’ consultation workshop on the Strategy and plan of action on epilepsy was held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on January 17. Gina Watson, PAHO Representative in Honduras, and Jorge Rodríguez, PAHO Senior Advisor on Mental Health attended the Workshop. The event was chaired by Miriam Paz, Undersecretary of Population Risks. The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and ILAE’s Vice-president, Marco Medina, and the Vice-president of IBE, Carlos Acevedo, were also present at the gathering.

 

 

The workshop was very active, with a large number of valuable contributions to be incorporated into the document; the high level of participation allowed a rich exchange of experiences. Attendees included officials and professionals from the Health Department, the Psychiatric Hospital, primary care, the University of Honduras School of Medicine, as well as representatives of users and their families.

Guatemala

Guatemala is a member of PAHO Executive Committee and as such was considered as a priority country for a consultation with experts to analyze the Strategy and plan of action on epilepsy and express technical opinion. This consultation was held on January 21 and was led by Jorge Rodríguez, PAHO/WHO Senior Advisor on Mental Health. It was attended by 14 professionals from the Ministry of Health, the academic sector, the Guatemalan Social Security Institute, the Guatemalan Association of Neurological Sciences and the Guatemalan Association of Neurological Surgery. Guatemala has a group of neurologists who have been working for decades in epilepsy prevention and control programs with a social basis and linked to primary care. Some very successful graduate programs (Residency) are also developed in the country.