Advancing patient-centric policies: EFNA and OneNeurology’s impact on global and European health priorities

Advancing patient-centric policies: EFNA and OneNeurology’s impact on global and European health priorities

The European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA) and the OneNeurology global partnership, co-founded by EFNA, have played a crucial role in promoting neurological conditions and brain health as public health priorities in global and European health policy discussions. Together, we have ensured that the patient perspective remains central to these discussions.

Our collaboration is an evidence of the strength derived from uniting multidisciplinary and cross-disease efforts across different regions of the globe. By working collectively under the OneNeurology partnership, we have leveraged connections with various WHO regions to foster a cohesive and comprehensive approach to advancing neurological health.

This collaborative culminated in the adoption of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders (IGAP) by all WHO member states in 2022. Ahead of the IGAP adoption, EFNA led the OneNeurology efforts to call for a horizontal, comprehensive, and ambitious plan that puts people with lived experience in its centre. To celebrate the IGAP’s adoption, we organised a side-event during the 2022 World Health Assembly in Geneva.

In 2023, the OneNeurology partnership enlisted regional ambassadors to rally support for the plan from national governments and parliaments worldwide. To amplify our voice further, we have produced 14 episodes of the One Voice for Neurology podcast, which discusses the importance of making neurology a global priority, how it can be achieved, and the potential impact on those living with neurological conditions.

Moreover, since 2019, EFNA and OneNeurology have consistently advocated for the full integration of neurological conditions and brain health into WHO non-communicable diseases (NCDs) policies, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and the correspondence Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have driven this agenda by participating in numerous consultations, meeting WHO representatives, the release of several policy papers, and sharing our recommendations with governments globally. Our strategic collaboration with the NCD Alliance has further enhanced our capacity to strengthen our messages and bolster our advocacy efforts in this regard. We are pleased to see the positive outcomes of our efforts reflected in initiatives like the WHO 2023 framework: Meaningful engagement of people with lived experience of noncommunicable diseases and mental health and neurological conditions.

The publication of papers led by OneNeurology in prestigious journals such as The Lancet Neurology, Lancet Global Public Health, and Nature Reviews has underscored the significance and credibility of our work. These articles address critical issues surrounding neurological conditions and position EFNA and OneNeurology at the forefront of global neurological advocacy.

Our active engagement with diplomatic missions in Geneva, particularly during the WHO Executive Board meetings and the World Health Assembly, has been instrumental in directly influencing global health policies. By maintaining regular contact and providing detailed updates and position papers, we ensure that the needs and objectives of those with neurological conditions are clearly represented and understood.

The first in-person 2024 meeting of the OneNeurology partnership in Geneva marked a significant milestone. This gathering provided a crucial opportunity to reconnect with partners, stakeholders, and policymakers and included the participation of three representatives from the WHO Brain Health Unit.

Achieving official Non-State Actor status with WHO Europe in 2023 was a major stride for EFNA, enhancing our influence over neurological health policies across 53 European countries. This recognition affirms our continuous efforts and bolsters our ability to advocate for the comprehensive implementation of the IGAP, ensuring European health systems adequately address the needs of those with neurological conditions.

We also renamed the MEP Interest Group to focus on Brain Health and Neurological Conditions, tailoring our advocacy to align with the evolving health policy landscape. This strategic adjustment aims to enhance our impact prioritising and supporting the neurology patient and caregiver voice in parliament, and ensure our initiatives resonate with current health priorities.

Looking ahead, EFNA and OneNeurology continue to actively engage with global health policymakers and contribute to the operationalisation of health strategies like the Novel Medicines Platform in WHO Europe that EFNA is a member of. Our involvement highlights our commitment to changing the discourse around neurological health, making sure that patient voices are not just heard but are influential in shaping policy.

This ongoing engagement and advocacy underline the critical role of patient involvement in shaping health policies that are not only inclusive but also equitable. As we move forward, the lessons learned and the foundations laid by EFNA and OneNeurology will undoubtedly continue to influence global and European health policies, ensuring that neurological conditions and brain health remain a priority in the global health agenda.