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The Struggle With Epilepsy in the Developing World

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report in Special English.

About half of all people live in countries that are low or lower middle income. But these countries have more than 85 percent of all cases of epilepsy.

Medical experts say this is probably because of the higher rates of brain infections and head injuries that can cause the disorder. People in developing countries are also more likely to die of untreated epilepsy than people in richer countries. Deaths often result from a series of seizures.

The Lancet medical journal in Britain just published a special issue on epilepsy in the world's poorer regions. The report explains that epilepsy can be inherited. It can also be caused by infections, birth traumas, head injuries or strokes. Epilepsy can affect people in different ways. He or she may have hallucinations, lose consciousness or go stiff, fall down and begin to shake violently.

People with epilepsy have a hard time for finding jobs or spouses. In some societies, families may be avoided if one of their members has epilepsy. But the Lancet points out that epilepsy can often be controlled with medicine that does not cost very much. According to the report, seizures can be controlled or reduced with medicine that costs between five and 10 dollars a year.

In poorer areas of the world, health professionals are working to help people get access to these drugs and managing the side effects of the medicines. People with epilepsy often do not know that they have it or that it can be controlled with medicine. So health professionals say their first aim is to educate people about the disorder. The Lancet report says that prevention efforts could reduce the number of epilepsy cases in Africa by half.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.