Neurological disorders are the most frequent, disabling, and costly of all non-communicable diseases [NCDs] globally. They also constitute the second leading cause of death worldwide. The NCD Countdown 2030 has also demonstrated that they are the fastest-growing cause of death among NCDs.
Despite this, until recently, a lack of understanding and fragmentation of the field of neurology led to neurological health being largely overlooked from mainstream health priorities.
A series of recent decisions taken by global and EU leaders have started to reverse this unfortunate trend. The latest development comes with the WHO resolution (co-sponsored by all EU countries) announcing the creation of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022 – 2031 (GAP) that we wrote about in this article.
We are extremely pleased to announce that on 5 March 2021 the WHO Secretariat published a GAP Discussion Paper that takes an integrated approach to neurological health. It is the first step towards developing the GAP which will address the challenges and gaps in providing care and services for people with neurological disorders and ensure a comprehensive, coordinated response across sectors.
The paper includes the proposed vision, strategic objectives and a set of recommended actions for countries, WHO and international organizations.
Rather than adopting a disease-specific structure, the GAP will apply an integrated, person-centred framework for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care of people with neurological disorders, given that many of these conditions share risk factors and/or require a similar systems-based approach.
Many neurological conditions are interwoven in other WHO strategies. Therefore, the GAP will seek synergies with other global frameworks relevant to health such as NCDs, mental health, Universal Health Coverage, UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, child and adolescent health, and ageing.
The Discussion Paper has four main objectives:
- To raise the prioritization and strengthen governance for neurological disorders
- To provide effective, timely and responsive diagnosis, treatment, and care for neurological disorders
- To implement strategies for the promotion of brain health and prevention of neurological disorders
- To foster research and innovation and strengthen information systems for neurological disorders
Currently, Member States, UN agencies and relevant non-State actors, including health and disease-specific NGOs, are invited to provide comments to the paper before 10 April 2021.
You can find out more about the timelines, read the actual Discussion Paper and take part in the consultations by following this link.
We at EFNA are delighted about the much needed improvements that these developments will bring to people affected by neurological disorders, their families and carers, as well as for health systems across the globe. Implementation of the GAP can impact on areas such as increased prioritisation of neurology in national health planning and budgeting, creation of national neurological strategies, and better update of health outcomes that matter to patients.
We will be actively engaged in the consultations process through our involvement in the OneNeurology initiative, by engaging with our membership, as well as through submitting our comments as EFNA. We will also organise a European Neurological Summit in the fall of 2021 to harness the political support in the WHO Europe region.
Sign up to EFNA’s bi-monthly newsletter to receive our latest news and updates.