Epilepsy affects an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide, of whom 80% live in developing countries. The treatment gap is estimated at around 90% in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The present work analyses some of the reasons that could explain the low access to antiepileptic drugs (AED) for children with epilepsy in the Lao PDR. Epilepsy, the ‘mad pig disease’, is highly neglected. Traditional beliefs, fear and stigma are common among the general population and shared by 40% of health staff. Poor knowledge of the disease and its treatment, low trust in modern treatment, restricted access to AED and ignorance of long-term treatment explain the low access to AED. Improving understanding of epilepsy and its treatment, will improve the treatment gap for epileptic children in the Lao PDR.
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Funding Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), Institut Francophone pour la Médecine Tropicale (IFMT), Sanofi Aventis Access to Medicines.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the National Ethical Review Board of Laos.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.