Executive Director, European Federation of Neurological Associations (pictured)
We must bring hope and solutions to people with neurological disorders, by prioritising neurological health and developing action plans to future-proof our healthcare systems.
At least one in three people, of all ages, will have a neurological disorder in their lifetime.
Today, these disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Neurological disorders account for 60% of the prevalence and for almost 20% of the total disability in Europe.
Despite this burden, the four big non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disease – have traditionally been prioritised.
Today, neurological disorders account for 60% of the prevalence and for almost 20% of the total disability amongst NCDs in Europe.
This is mostly due to a dramatic increase in the proportion of the burden associated with conditions such as migraine, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and dementias.
We must strive to ensure that every person living with a neurological disorder will have equitable access to the diagnosis, treatment and support they need.
Decision-makers have been looking away
More worryingly, neurological disorders also caused almost a quarter of deaths associated with NCDs in Europe in 2017, at over 1.1 million.
These figures are soaring and will continue to grow as environmental risk factors increase and as we see an increase in life expectancy.
However, our limited understanding of the human brain means we still have no cure for most neurological disorders and limited treatment for many.
A long-term, sustainable plan
“Given the huge burden, neurological disorders deserve a higher priority and an increased budget to address the research, health and social care gaps,” says Donna Walsh, Executive Director at the European Federation of Neurological Associations. “But our decision makers have traditionally been looking away.”
“Advances in the management of neurological disorders are not keeping up with the increasing burden of these diseases.”
“If the demographic changes continue, steep increases in deaths and disability from neurological disorders will be inevitable.”
This has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) which says that existing high-level commitments have not afforded neurological conditions the political priority on national agendas that they require. They also fall short on tangible global commitments specific to reducing the burden.
To address this challenge, a resolution on ‘Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders’ was adopted by the World Health Assembly on November 13th.
The resolution commits countries worldwide to meet concrete targets to address the impact of neurological disorders in the next 10 years.
“‘We hope that this resolution will be the starting point for a broader strategy on neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders,” says Ms. Walsh.
“We must strive to ensure that every person living with a neurological disorder will have equitable access to the diagnosis, treatment and support they need.”
For more information, see www.efna.net