Commission confirms no coordinated effort to address neurology as public health priority

The European Commission confirms that there is no coordinated effort to address neurology as a public health priority and no plans to do so in the near future.

With support from 17 MEPs, the European Federation of Neurological Associations [EFNA] submitted a Parliamentary Written Question on January 23rd.

The question called for the European Commission to acknowledge the burden of neurological disorders and to see better integration of neurology within the Commission’s portfolio of work on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It also called for the development of a unified EU brain health strategy.

Unfortunately, the response received from the Health Directorate, DG Sante – on April 22nd – effectively confirmed that there is no coordinated effort to address neurological health from a public health perspective at EU level.

SANTE also confirmed that there are no plans to include neurology in the work of its Steering Committee on Health Promotion and Prevention on Non-Communicable Diseases – even though it is recognized at the global level as the 5th main NCD (along with mental health).

‘We are disappointed to hear that neurology is not seen as a priority by the European Commission despite the fact that brain disorders form the biggest burden amongst all NCDs. Neurological disorders – alone – are the leading cause of disability and second leading cause of death in the world,’ said EFNA’s President, Joke Jaarsma.

‘However, we will work tirelessly to change this situation. We will continue pushing through the Parliament and endeavour to partner with EU member states that grasp the importance of neurological health and are willing to put it on the EU agenda.’

On the positive side, DG Research and Innovation are taking a more active stance when it comes to addressing the burden of brain disorders, through the prominent inclusion of neuroscience research in their future plans. In her reply to the question, Commissioner Kyriakides mentioned how the EU is currently funding work on the European Brain Research Area, coordinated by the European Brain Council. She highlighted that this flagship initiative aims to provide recommendations to build an EU brain research strategy. Moreover, she said, these recommendations will be used to develop the brain health partnership that is expected to be funded under Horizon Europe. See:

‘Whilst we are pleased to see the European Commission continue to prioritise neuroscience research, we need to ensure that this is supported by aligned action on neurological disorders from a public health perspective,’ said Jaarsma, ‘We must ensure that whilst we are researching the diagnostics and treatments of tomorrow, we are meeting the needs of the millions of people affected by neurological disorders today.’

The question can be accessed here and the full answer here (PDF).