Wits researcher co-chairs task force on global cost of epilepsy
- Wits University
Epilepsy affects more than 60 million individuals globally with at least 70% of cases found in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr Ryan G Wagner, a research fellow with the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health & Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt) has been appointed to co-chair the Task Force on the Economic Burden of Epilepsy, an initiative of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). Wagner's appointment forms part of his role as secretary to the ILAE's Commission on Epidemiology for the 2017-2021 term.
Over the last decade, Wagner has led a team of researchers in the rural Agincourt study site exploring the economic and epidemiological burden of active convulsive epilepsy. This type of epilepsy is thought to be the most stigmatizing and the most amenable to treatment. During this time, Wagener earned his MSc (Med) (by research) from Wits and a PhD from Umeå University, Sweden, which demonstrated that a community health worker-led intervention to improve epilepsy treatment is cost-effective.
Epilepsy affects more than 60 million individuals globally, with at least 70% of cases found in low- and middle-income countries. While epilepsy is not curable, it is treatable with relatively inexpensive drugs that can reduce or even eliminate seizures. However, in many of the regions with the highest burden of epilepsy, few people receive the care they need, resulting in a high treatment gap. And it’s here where Wagner hopes his work can impact.
“By understanding the economic burden, both on the person with epilepsy and their family and community, one can begin to understand the magnitude of the problem, as well as factors that may contribute to the problem," says Wagner. "Understanding these factors can lead to the implementation of interventions targeting this burden and improving the care for people with epilepsy".