An International Challenge: Epilepsy in India

By: Japbani Nanda

Statistics are not enough to describe the impact that an illness has on a nation. India, with a population of about 1.3 billion individuals, is the largest democracy in the world. With each day, it is advancing towards further development in all fields. Yet, in the area of dealing with epilepsy, awareness of the illness and treatment options are needed desperately.

In India, about 10 million people suffer from epilepsy, with a prevalence of about 1.9% in rural areas and 0.6% in urban locales. There is a high prevalence of epilepsy among children and young adults. The greater prevalence of epilepsy in rural areas is a testament to the impact of the stigma that surrounds this illness on the levels of treatment that Indians receive. About 95% of people in India who suffer from epilepsy are never treated for it and almost half of the sufferers do not have access to anti-epileptic drugs.

Stigma hinders the Indian population from truly understanding epilepsy. While the physical seizures that are characteristic of epilepsy may seem scary and contribute to this social stigma, epilepsy is not contagious. Yet, people with epilepsy often do not get an education, do not find jobs, and do not get married.

A lack of appropriate medical treatment in many Indian regions precludes patients from being treated. Many cases of epilepsy can be cured while others can be controlled. Additionally, many do not realize they are afflicted because they are not aware of the risk factors, which include consumption of infected pork and unwashed vegetables, and brain injury. Many individuals may not seek treatment because of societal pressure.

In an effort to diminish the stigma that is associated with epilepsy, The Humanology Project hopes to raise awareness of the social issues that are affecting the ill in many countries, including India. The people of countries with a rich culture and thriving possibilities should not be hindered by social stigma if they try to seek out treatment. The first step to proper treatment is a firm understanding of illness and its causes. With a renewed sense of knowledge, the Indian population may be able to erase the dark spots of stigma that have been attached to epilepsy.


Roy, Mrinal K., and Dhiman Das. “Indian Guidelines on Epilepsy.” The Association of

             Physicians of India, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

Sinha, Kounteya. “Around 95% of Indians with Epilepsy Don’t Get Treatment: Study.”

             The Times Of India. N.p., 12 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

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