The Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP)
10 Year Goal

“To reduce the stigma, impact and burden of neurological disorders, including their associated mortality, morbidity and disability, and to improve the quality of life of people with neurological disorders, their carers and families.”


What are the Goals of the IGAP?

The IGAP has 4 goals it sets out to achieve and these inform the implementation of the IGAP in South Africa. The goals are:

Reduce the stigma, impact, and burden of neurological conditions through creating awareness, educating people, and increasing understanding.

Improve the quality of life of people with neurological conditions, their carers, and families.

Strengthen prevention, treatment and care.

Ensure a holistic approach, where the medical team, the individual, and all social and environmental influences work together.

What is the IGAP?

The Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders as we know it, is referred to as the IGAP. It has been more than 20 years in the making. The IGAP is a 10-year roadmap (2022 – 2031) launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to effectively address neurological conditions and improve the lives of people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions worldwide.

Why is the IGAP so important?

The IGAP is the FIRST EVER global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

The history of this incredible document

In May 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised the worldwide burden of epilepsy which resulted in the development of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022 – 2031. The IGAP was adopted in May 2022 by all member states, South Africa being one of these.

The IGAP aspires for a world in which:

  • Brain health is valued, promoted, and protected throughout life;
  • Neurological disorders are prevented, diagnosed, and treated to avoid premature death; and
  • People affected by neurological disorders and their carers have the best possible health, with equal rights, opportunities, respect, and autonomy. 

We need to create a world where people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions are accepted and included without discrimination.

Epilepsy South Africa is proud to be the South African chapter of the International Bureau of Epilepsy (IBE). The IBE improves the social condition and quality of life of people with epilepsy and those who care for them.

The IGAP has been made possible in part by contribution from the Band Foundation.


How can we use the IGAP as a Roadmap in South Africa?

When you read the IGAP, you will see that it has five strategic objectives. Epilepsy South Africa conducted a national survey in June/July 2022 asking people with and affected by epilepsy and other neurological conditions for their opinion about the most important objectives. Through this process four objectives were identified to be implemented in South Africa.

What is Epilepsy? 

One in twenty people will experience some sort of seizure at some stage of their life.
A seizure (also called a convulsion) is a sudden, uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain which can cause changes in behaviour, movements, feelings, and levels of consciousness. A single seizure does not mean that you have epilepsy. 
A doctor will diagnose whether you have epilepsy or not.
Epilepsy is a tendency to have repeated seizures. It is a spectrum disorder which means that there are many different types of seizures. In some people the cause can be identified, but in most cases the cause is not known. Different people will have different symptoms depending on the type of seizure. Due to the fact that epilepsy is caused by activity in the brain, seizures can affect any brain process. 
Symptoms may include temporary confusion, staring into space, stiff muscles, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, losing consciousness, and psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety, or déjà vu (a feeling that you have lived through an experience before).
While many things will change when you are diagnosed with epilepsy, the most immediate and important is to tell people the true facts about your condition:
  • Epilepsy can affect any person at any age, gender, and race regardless of economic status (income levels).
  • Epilepsy is life-threatening if left undiagnosed, untreated, or unmanaged.
  • Epilepsy can be treated and effectively managed.
  • 25% of epilepsy cases can be prevented.
  • Everyone can learn how to help someone having a seizure.
  • One in 20 people will have a seizure at some time in their lives which does not mean that they have epilepsy.
  • Children with epilepsy should go to school because they are able to learn like other children.
  • People with epilepsy can learn and work because they have the same abilities as anyone else.

What are the other neurological conditions mentioned in the IGAP?

Neurological conditions affect the brain and spinal cord. The IGAP includes a number of conditions:
  • A headache is a pain in your head or face. These can differ a lot in terms of the type and intensity of pain, where it is located and how often you get these. While headaches are very common and generally not dangerous, some can be a sign of a more serious condition. There are more than 150 types of headaches.
  • Diseases that affect the functioning of muscles due to problems with the nerves and muscles in your body. These are known as neurodegenerative disorders (a slow and progressive loss of brain cells) or neuromuscular disorders. The most common are Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and motor neuron disease.
  • Diseases that affect the flow of blood to your brain (cerebrovascular diseases). The include stroke and brain aneurysm (caused by a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons out and fills with blood). These conditions are medical emergencies and need immediate treatment.
  • Some diseases that affect the brain are caused by a viral or bacterial infection and are known as neuroinfectious or neuroimmunological disorders. These include meningitis (a swelling of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), HIV, neurocysticercosis (a preventable parasitic infection generally caused by pork tapeworms), cerebral malaria, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

  • Some conditions affect how the brain works (neurodevelopmental disorders). Examples include attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, some learning disabilities, and cerebral palsy.

  • The brain or spinal cord can be injured by a traumatic event like a car accident or sport injury. It affects the normal function of the brain due to a bump, blow or jolt to the head or something penetrating the brain or spinal cord. While everyone is at risk, children and older adults are especially vulnerable.

  • Some cancers can also affect the nervous system.


Below are five South African language versions of the IGAP booklet for your to download as a PDF:
IGAP English
IGAP isiZulu
IGAP English
IGAP Sesotho
IGAP Afrikaans