The Epilepsy Foundation has entered into a $16 million agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve education and awareness of epilepsy. The five-year initiative is part of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Seizures and epilepsy, also known as recurring seizures, affect 3 million people in the United States each year, as well as many more family members, friends and caregivers. Seizures are a common neurological problem that, unfortunately, is under-recognized and not treated as significant by large segments of society.
For many people, epilepsy can be a self-limiting or easily controlled health problem. But for many more, epilepsy can be a lifelong disorder requiring ongoing treatment and enormous resources to manage and cope with many disabling physical, social, cognitive and emotional burdens.
A recent report from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) revealed that many people living with the disease had not seen an epilepsy specialist or a neurologist in the past year. Consequently, they are not getting the best care. Recent data also showed there are delays in the time it takes healthcare professionals to identify that someone is having seizures. These delays increase the risk of subsequent seizures, injuries and death. Reports also demonstrate that the public continues to be unaware of the correct first aid for someone having a seizure.
In the new collaboration with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation will work toward improving the quality of life of people living with epilepsy by advancing public awareness about the disease, increasing workforce skills, improving recognition of seizures and proper first aid, and empowering people affected with epilepsy with self-management resources and community support. The strategies also include increasing education of first responders, daycare providers, school workers and law enforcement personnel.
“We are extremely honored to be selected to continue our work with the CDC through this new cooperative agreement that will help us address and improve the nation’s understanding of epilepsy and seizures,” Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation said in a news release.
“This agreement is intended to address problems that were identified by the National Academy of Sciences in its report, ‘The public health burden of the epilepsies,’ with a focus on closing the gap that exists from seizure occurrence to therapies, ensuring more consistent care and support for the complex needs of a person having chronic seizures, and addressing the continued lack of clear understanding of epilepsy and its best treatment and management,” Gattone said.