Measures adopted to support epileptic patients nationwide

September 23 , 2017

Komeito’s task force on epilepsy in discussion on the disorder with ministry heads on Sep. 22Komeito’s task force on epilepsy in discussion on the disorder with ministry heads on Sep. 22

As part of the seventh edition of the national healthcare plan, the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry decided to include measures to enhance support for epileptic patients such as guaranteeing that there is at least one medical facility specializing in epilepsy in each local prefecture across Japan. The decision was announced during a Komeito task force hearing on the issue led by House of Councillors member Hiroshi Yamamoto, which met on September 22. They are a direct result of a proposal the task force submitted to the government this May. Representatives from the Japan Epilepsy Association, including Chairman Yuji Tadokoro attended the meeting.

Komeito’s proposal outlines the fact that social and medical support for epilepsy—which affects one in a 100 people—is lacking across the board.

According to the health ministry, the following measures will be incorporated into the latest healthcare plan: 1) clarification of medical facilities that specialize in the disorder; and 2) designating which medical facilities will serve as major hubs of communication and coordination with other facilities and establishing a strong network between all facilities involved. The initiative will be modeled after a current project involving eight hospitals that serve as local hubs for epilepsy treatment in the country.

The ministry also reported that the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) has begun research on structural support measures (medical facilities, private organizations, employment agencies, etc.) aimed at helping epileptic patients return to the workplace and contribute to society. It is working on preparing guidelines to enable the smooth coordination of such efforts.

In addition, in response to Komeito’s point about epileptic seizures occurring most frequently at the elementary and middle school levels, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said they were in the process of revising regulations for the national teacher’s license examinations, and that they would ensure that guidelines for infants, children and students who need additional support (such as those with epilepsy) would be incorporated into the regulations starting in 2019.

Komeito’s Yamamoto stated that based on these responses from the ministries, they would now move toward securing the necessary budget for the tasks ahead.

Japan Epilepsy Association Chair Tadokoro said the Komeito proposal was “well received by all” and that it served as a good opportunity for the various ministries to reconsider their measures toward the disorder and hoped more initiatives of this kind would spread.