Brussels, Belgium – 17 November 2015
Poland is the first EU member state to launch a national Brain Plan aimed at a better and more accurate use of the health national budget.
The EBC was instrumental to this initiative and issued a Call to Action towards the development of national brain plans to be brought under the umbrella of a EU-wide plan addressing brain health in a comprehensive and collaborative manner. Patrice Boyer, Vice President of the EBC, chaired the meeting.
Jaroslaw Slawek, President of the Polish Brain Council and President-Elect of the Polish Neurological Society, presented the current situation concerning the enormous burden – social as well as economic – of brain disorders in Poland. He also pointed out that only 3% of the Polish GNP is dedicated to health issues. The Polish Brain plan is also supported by the national patients’ association represented by Isabella Czarnecka, who illustrated the goals & strategy of the Polish Brain Plan. She insisted on the need to raise awareness on brain disorders and their impact on families, caregivers and work with the public and politicians. The economic aspects that the Polish Brain Plan would like to address were illustrated by Malgorzata Galazka-Sobotka of the Lazarski University.
The European Commission welcomed the initiative, and delegates form DG Research and Innovation, Mr. Karim Berkouk – Deputy Head for Medical Research. Research & Innovation DG, and DG Sante Mr. Adrzej Rys – Director in Directorate C, Public Health and Risk Assessment, expressed their interest in the Polish Brain Plan.
Mr. Berkouk illustrated the complexity of brain research which has induced industries to abandon the field. He also mentioned the many opportunities that H2020 offers researchers. Commissioner Moedas’ aim is to be open to innovation, science and the world.
Mr. Rys explained that cooperation is the DG Sante’s main theme. He highlighted the topics that the EC puts forward as its priorities for 2016-17: the importance of implementing e-health; the importance of HTA to ensure the benefits of innovation e.g. in therapies and the European Reference Network which will bring together the best centers of clinical treatment.
Roberto Bertollini, Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the EU, mentioned the WHO’s global initiative on dementia. He stated that the WHO’s “Mental Health Gap” action programme aims at supporting members countries in identifying answers to the increasing burden of mental health problems.
Magda Chlebus, Science Policy Director at EFPIA – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, spoke about the high indirect costs that brain disorders generate. She highlighted the need for social support to those living with a brain disorder as well as their care givers and families. We should aim at solutions that allow a balance between costs and improvement of patient’s quality of life.
Jezry Buzek, former President of the European Parliament (EP) and Chair of the EP’s ITRE – Industry Research and Energy committee, brought his support to national brain plans. He mentioned about his meeting with Prof. G. Opala and Prof. Jes Olesen (DK) 9 years ago, meeting that brought forth the European Brain Council and a major attention to brain research through the first publication of the “Cost of Disorders of the Brain in Europe”. He highlighted the urgent need for a general European strategy towards better and more brain research, and invited everybody to promote the exchange of best practice and models of solutions that can become a template for other member states.
This event is endorsed by EAN.
by Eveline Sipido, EAN Liaison officer