‘Much needs to be done to get rid stigma related with epilepsy in India’

Every year, on November 17, India celebrates national epilepsy day. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that affects people worldwide. It is a chronic disorder of the brain which is characterised by recurrent unprovoked seizures. Recently, the UK government had approved a drug made from deriving a compound from cannabis for treating convulsion caused by epilepsy


Prof J. Helen Cross is a consultant in paediatric neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK
Prof J. Helen Cross is a consultant in paediatric neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK

Seizures are caused due to abnormal brain cell activity. Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.

My Medical Mantra spoke with Prof J. Helen Cross, a consultant in paediatric neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK, who had recently visited the country. She is the leading doctor in treating epilepsy related patients and research activity.

Q: A new drug derived from cannabis has been shown to reduce the convulsive seizures experienced by children with a severe form of epilepsy by nearly a half. You being the leading doctor involved in the trials, could you tell us more about it?

A: It is found that cannabidiol – derived from cannabis but with the psycho-active elements removed – reduces seizures in children with a form of drug resistant epilepsy. The UK government has allowed a drug derived from cannabis to use for research purpose. Prescription of such drug will be allowed once the trails are successfully completed and government gives permission of its sale.

Till now the trail has shown promising results for those suffering from adverse syndrome of epilepsy.

Q: If it is licensed how would it benefit?

A: It has worked with adverse type of epilepsy like Dravet syndrome, which can cause life-threatening convulsions several times a day. This will then make education and life easier for thousands of children.

Q: Nearly 80% of the people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries. In many parts of the world, people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination. How do you look at the scenario in countries developing countries?

A: A lot needs to be done to remove the stigma associated with the disease. Also, because different courses of treatment are available in resource rich countries, it is possible to prevent and cure many adverse aspects of the disease. And this could be one of the reasons for relatively low cases in developed countries.

Q: How do you look at research scenario in India?

A: There are many research activities going on in India. With the huge population base it will help in diagnosing the patients here more correctly. It will also help to look which infection is causing what.

Q: How do you look at treatment given in India?

A: It is much equal to what is given in resource developed and rich countries. But the rural healthcare needs to be made stronger to give effective medical services.