The Oxford Martin Programme on

Global Epilepsy

the challenge

One in 20 people will have a seizure in their lifetime and over 70 million people have epilepsy worldwide. Over 85% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries, where the increased risk from seizures contributes to much higher mortality.

Underfunding, limited access to medical care, and stigma towards people with epilepsy means that in some places fewer than 20% of those who need anti-seizure medications receive them.

It is difficult to rapidly increase the number of doctors and access to medical care in low- and middle-income countries. However, we can use technological solutions to allow others, especially non-physician healthcare workers, to help advance patient care.

To achieve this we need to know why epilepsy is poorly understood and why these misconceptions are so widespread. With these insights, we can begin to develop culturally-sensitive technologies to make a significant difference in people’s lives.

This ground-breaking project brings together a new, carefully selected, multi-disciplinary team to deliver research-informed, culturally appropriate technologies that have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life in people with epilepsy across the world.

The Oxford Martin Programme on Global Epilepsy has three aims:

To understand the life experiences of people with epilepsy, the impact of epilepsy on communities, the nature of social stigma and perceptions of new healthcare technologies. This will be achieved through ethnographic work and the creation of local oral history projects and archives where people share their perceptions of, and experiences with, epilepsy.

To bring together engineers, medics and computer programmers to prototype and deploy portable high-density brainwave recording (EEG) to improve diagnostic accuracy. This prototype will seek to overcome challenges specific to low- and middle-income countries including electrode interfacing, the design of the sensors, and algorithms for rapid diagnosis.

To use the local understanding gained from oral histories to create a suite of apps that will help support healthcare workers throughout the epilepsy diagnosis, management and follow-up pathway. App-based teaching tools will provide epilepsy first aid and custom education platforms for people with epilepsy, their families and community.