“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus (1913-1960)
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Without doubt 2020 has been a very challenging year. With over 80 million cases, two million deaths, profound economic and emotional consequences across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted an incredible toll. We will always remember those we lost to this pandemic, our family members, friends but also many colleagues in healthcare who have been at the frontline.
Difficult times are also opportunities and ask for creative solutions which can open new avenues for a better future. The European Academy of Neurology took decisive action early on at different levels.
The EANcore COVID-19 Taskforce was created to support neurologists and other colleagues through the crisis. Information related to the virus were made available via our website, EANpages, social media and email newsletters. A consensus statement on the treatment of COVID-19 by a range of experts from EAN was published. An international survey of patient care during COVID-19 pandemic was launched in partnership with the European Federation of Neurological Associations. To better understand the characteristics of neurological complications of the pandemic, a survey was conducted in June 2020. With over 2,343 participants the study, which was recently published, reflects one of the largest world-wide experiences on the topic. To obtain a more precise and systematic view of the neurological manifestations (and outcome) of the COVID-19 infection, the Ean NEuro-covid ReGistrY (ENERGY) was subsequently created. With 400 patient cases entered from 20 sites (and more than 250 other sites across the globe preparing to join), ENERGY well illustrates the potential of joining forces internationally to better understand the consequences, determinants and eventually burden of the pandemic. On behalf of EAN, I express my gratitude to the entire EANcore COVID-19 Taskforce for their incredible efforts this year.
The pandemic had major affects also on the normal activities of EAN, most importantly of all the Annual Congress. It was not an easy decision to make but changing to an EAN Virtual Congress in 2020 was certainly the right one. While doing so we decided to give colleagues around the world the opportunity to continue sharing scientific knowledge and made the congress free of charge. A recent publication reports on the organization and systematic evaluation of this first EAN virtual congress. The high attendance (more than 45,000 participants) including non-European colleagues, students and neurologists in training and the perceived high quality of the event opens unexpected potential for future EAN congresses. I have to give huge thanks to our Headoffice team in Vienna for their pioneering work to organise a virtual congress in only eight weeks.
While it is encouraging to see the roll-out of vaccines even before Christmas in many parts of the world, we are not out of the woods yet. Our efforts to support colleagues must continue and with that in mind we decided for an EAN Virtual Congress also in 2021 ( Virtual Congress in June 2021). To make it to accessible to colleagues from all over the world we have arranged for highly affordable fees. Profiting of the lessons learned this year we plan to create a truly memorable experience.
Despite the pandemic, the EAN has worked hard also on its 2020-2024 strategic priorities.
For our Members we are launching a mentorship program and created a taskforce on gender and diversity in neurology. The chair of the RRFS (Resident and Research Fellows Section) was co-opted to the EAN board. I warmly congratulate the RRFS for their publication on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemics on neurology training and research in Europe.
In terms of Education, the board has decided to create an e-learning platform and is in the process of selecting its Editor-in-chief and board. Whenever possible we made scheduled events available online and we assured bursary holders access for upcoming years. We also introduced exciting new online options such as the first of EAN’s Masterclasses. Finally, the European Curriculum profited of an in depth-revision and update.
In terms of Science, we published a paper on burden of neurological disease in Europe, created a panel on rare diseases, successfully changed the chairs of the scientific panels, potentiated the guidelines committee, participated in the EBC workshop of experts on the Shared European Brain Research Agenda (SEBRA scientific collaborator), and offered financial and technical support to our COVID-19 task force. Currently, we are finalizing the preparation of the first EAN Science Winter School and in the process of launching a value of treatment (VOT) project on sleep disorders together with the EBC, EFNA and specialized societies.
Our Advocacy efforts included multiple successful activities with EFNA, the European Commission, and the WHO to make neurological disorders a priority at global level,changes in the composition of the EAN European Affairs subcommittee, the creation of an international task force, a call for a senior project manager for our office in Brussels, multiple fruitful meetings with our partner societies, as well as including the PAUNS, AONS, AAN, PAFNS, and WFN.
It has been a long and trying year for us all. But 2020 has shown what can be achieved together and that we are capable of adapting to new challenges. The EAN, the Home of Neurology, can look not only with hope but also with confidence into the future!
I wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year and hope to see you online at EAN 2021!
Claudio Lino Alberto Bassetti
“There is only one proof of ability – action.”
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916)