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Epilepsy sufferers deserve more help to lead normal lives - MEP

July 5, 2011 4:56 PM
Epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder.

Epilepsy should not be a bar to a normal life, say MEPs

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne has backed a cross-party call for better treatment and other help so sufferers of epilepsy can lead more normal lives.

Epilepsy, marked by recurrent seizures or fits, is the most common serious brain disorder and affects 1 in every 130 people, or 6 million across the EU.

Though between fits people with the condition are usually completely normal, stigma and discrimination against them is widespread and unemployment much higher than average.

Liz Lynne MEP has signed a written Declaration in the European Parliament calling for action by health services across the EU to improve treatment and for other initiatives to help ensure better quality of life and access to employment and transport.

Liz Lynne, First Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and a long time campaigner against discrimination, said: "This declaration is rightly calling for epilepsy to be given a higher priority by both health agencies and governments.

"It is quite possible for people to live full and independent lives with this condition and treatment can reduce or eliminate seizures in up to 70% of cases, but sadly across the EU 4 out of 10 sufferers do not get offered it.

"Measures to help people who still suffer occasionally to use public transport as driving is usually not possible can make a huge difference to employment opportunities.

"Sadly, many people with this disorder suffer great discrimination in their lives which is wholly unnecessary. Help to allow better access to the job market will pay for itself in lower benefit bills.

"The Declaration also calls for the EU to encourage the pooling of research from aroundEuropeon how we can improve diagnosis, treatment and management and share best practice on what initiatives are most effective in helping people with epilepsy to live fuller lives."

The Declaration, similar to an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, needs to be signed by a majority of Euro MPs to be adopted.

ENDS

Note: 0022/2011 Written declaration on epilepsy

The European Parliament,

- having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas epilepsy is the most common serious disorder of the brain,

B. whereas 6 000 000 people inEuropehave epilepsy, with 300 000 new cases diagnosed each year,

C. whereas up to 70% of people with epilepsy could be seizure-free with appropriate treatment, while 40% of people with epilepsy inEuropedo not receive such treatment,

D. whereas 40% of children with epilepsy have difficulties at school,

E. whereas people with epilepsy inEuropeexperience high levels of unemployment,

F. whereas people with epilepsy are exposed to stigma and prejudice,

G. whereas epilepsy damages health but also disrupts every aspect of life, and can impose physical, psychological and social burdens on individuals and families,

1. Calls on the Commission and Council to:

- encourage research and innovation in the area of prevention and early diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy;

- prioritise epilepsy as a major disease that imposes a significant burden acrossEurope;

- take initiatives to encourage Member States to ensure equal quality of life, including in education, employment, transport and public healthcare, for people with epilepsy, e.g. by stimulating the exchange of best practice;

- encourage effective health impact assessments on all major EU and national policies;

2. Calls on the Member States to introduce appropriate legislation to protect the rights of all people with epilepsy;

3. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of thesignatories, to the Commission and the Parliaments of the Member States.