Global health leaders give green light to developing 10 year global plan on neurological disorders

Author: Tadeusz HawrotAn opinion piece by Tadeusz Hawrot,
EFNA Senior Advocacy Coordinator

Published: 16/11/2020



Note: This article builds on our earlier analysis that you can find here: A long-awaited golden window for neurological health opens

Global health leaders have given the green light to development of a 10-year global plan on neurological disorders, with a price tag of US$ 36.9 million

In February 2020 the WHO Executive Board endorsed a document calling on the global community to discuss prioritisation of Epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Back then, the file received formal backing from some 100 countries.

This has been followed up by the adoption of the Resolution “Global Actions on epilepsy and other neurological disorders” by all WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly earlier in November. Importantly, among the countries and regions co-sponsoring the Resolution, was the European Union.

The Resolution requests that WHO:

  • Develop, in consultation with Member States, and in full collaboration with United Nations organizations and relevant non-State actors, a 10-year Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders in support of universal health coverage to address the current significant gaps in promotion of physical and mental health, and prevention, early detection, care, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as social, economic, educational and inclusion needs of persons and families living with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, and the ongoing need for research to improve prevention, early detection, treatment, care and rehabilitation, including treatment options with the potential to cure epilepsy and other neurological disorders,
  • Include in the Intersectoral Global Action Plan ambitious, but achievable, global targets on reducing preventable cases of, and avoidable deaths, resulting from epilepsy and other neurological disorders, strengthening service coverage and access to essential medicines, improving surveillance and critical research and addressing discrimination and stigma;

WHO has also published details on related financial commitments, which state that the total WHO resource allocation to implement the resolution will be US$ 36.9 million. Member States can also commit their own resources to support its implementation and so far Russia and Iceland have declared their further support.

Every single NCD is pushing for similar resolutions and global plans, and yet very few ever make it, and it takes years if they do. It is therefore a huge achievement of the global neurological community that we should acknowledge and celebrate.  

EFNA recognises the crucial work that has been done in recent years by the epilepsy community, led by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE), and the Russian Federation, in the lead up to the aforementioned Resolution, as well as a important support for neurology from Iceland and the EU.

In close cooperation and agreement with ILAE and IBE, EFNA has campaigned intensely on all fronts over the past 12 months to ensure that the Resolution’s scope is sufficient to include other neurological disorders. You can explore our latest pitch on this in more detail here: Neurology – an overlooked NCD with the highest toll.

We are extremely pleased to note that our asks have been indeed fulfilled in the adopted Resolution and we anticipate fascinating times ahead of us, through actively contributing to the development and roll-out of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan.

The provisional timeline of the next steps will include:

  • First quarter of 2021 – WHO drafts the Plan: EFNA will explore the possibility of contributing to the drafting during this pre-stakeholder input period. This resolution will be also the central topic during the upcoming EFNA’s advocacy workshop ‘Making Neurology a Global Health Priority’ on 27 of November (on invitation only but please get in touch with us if you think you should attend).
  • Second quarter of 2021 – Stakeholder consultation: We will be reaching out to EFNA members and wider constituencies to drum up a wide mobilisation of the neurological community in providing input to the consultation from a variety of neurological conditions. Furthermore, EFNA is also in discussions with a number of global neurological groups in order to organise an EU summit coinciding with the consultation period, as well as with WHO Brain Health Unit plans to publish a position paper on Brain Health.
  • End of 2021 finalisation of the plan
  • 2022 – submitting the plan to the WHO Executive Board and its adoption during the WHA (likely in May)
  • 2022 – 2031 – Implementation