MEP Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain – Meeting report

On 29th November 2022, the MEP Interest Group on Brain Mind and Pain (BMP), under the patronage of the European Parliament and the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, hosted a hybrid event entitled ‘Addressing Gender related issues and bias in the Prevention and Treatment of Neurological Conditions’.

The event’s main objective was to discuss how the Interest Group can advance meaningful policies and interventions to address the drivers of gender health inequity. The event was attended by EU policymakers, healthcare professionals, patient organisations and industry representatives.

EFNA President, Joke Jaarsma with MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (FI, EPP)

The participants were welcomed by Ms Joke Jaarsma (President EFNA) and Ms Dierdre Ryan (President Pain Alliance Europe), who called for a change in the approach to how female patients with neurological conditions and chronic pain are perceived and the importance of collaborating with stakeholders to address this issue. MEP Patrizia Toia (IT, S&D) shared her message through a video highlighting the EU initiatives where the gender dimension should be further emphasised to ensure equal treatment, access, and conditions for women in this field.

Ms Richelle Flanagan (Co-founder My Moves Matter) and Ms Lucía Montón (Member of European Migraine & Headache Alliance), shared their inspiring stories of living with neurological conditions. There were followed by Ms Peggy Maguire (Director General European Institute of Women’s Health), who set the scene for the event noting the EU progress in addressing gender bias in the treatment of neurological conditions, but emphasised the need for a more robust plan of action for national health systems to respond to the needs of women.

The panel discussion, which included an impressive line-up of experts on the topic, including Ms Joke JaarsmaDr Anne Pépin (Senior Policy Officer, DG Research and Innovation – European Commission), Prof Elena Moro (President-Elect, European Academy of Neurology), Ms Richelle Flanagan (Co-founder, My Moves Matter) and Ms Anna Dé (Policy Advisor, Women’s Brain Project), focused on a variety of topics including the inclusion of women in research, the importance of gender education among healthcare professionals, the need for more action to prioritise neurology and a call for patients to be heard more prominently at an institutional level.

Mr Tadeusz Hawrot (Senior Policy Advisory, EFNA), discussed the neurological and gender equity revolution, where female empowerment should be a public health priority. MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (FI, EPP) followed with an inspiring closing statement, highlighting not only the importance of including women in research but acknowledging gender differences when conducting research. The event was closed by Ms Joke Jaarsma (President EFNA), who further noted the urgency for health system to respond to the consequences of gender issues related to neurological conditions.

Stay tuned to the website of the MEP Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain where over the coming weeks we will share a detailed report and video recording of the event.