by Claudio Bassetti, EAN President
Dear EAN Members, dear friends and colleagues,
As we gradually approach the midway point between our annual meetings, I wanted to take the chance to get in touch and give you a general update from the EAN President’s perspective. As our opportunities to meet in person continue to be somewhat restricted, I am keenly aware of the need to keep in contact and provide our members with insights into the EAN’s activities.
Happily, the chances for face-to-face meetings are slowly returning. I have found it greatly encouraging that many national societies have already returned to holding traditional, physical meetings and congresses, adding to our increasing confidence and excitement about our own in-person congress in Vienna next year. It has been my privilege to attend a few of these national events over recent weeks, in Portugal, Germany and the UK, and present the current priorities of our society; and the sense of enthusiasm and delight among participants has been very noticeable.
You may be aware that Brain Health is high on EAN’s current priority list, especially after the EAN Congress 2021 kicked off our renewed activity in this area with an Advocacy session titled Introduction on brain health in general. EAN is firm on its position that Brain Health is for all citizens; there is no health without brain health; and there is no wellbeing without brain health. Certainly, neurology and neurologists have a central role to play, which is why contextualisation of neurology and brain health is important. With this as a starting point, the goals, objectives, and actions of EAN’s Brain Health Campaign are taking shape. I am looking forward to sharing these developments with other presidents and delegates at a dedicated EAN 2021 Forum for National Neurological Societies in December, which I am sure will provide plenty of thought-provoking discussions.
Although our eighth annual congress is still more than six months away—and we know that circumstances can change quickly—I am very optimistic about our meeting in June. Though the congress might be named Europe 2022, it will be a fully in-person meeting in the beautiful and historic city of Vienna, Austria. Registration for EAN 2022 is due to open later this month, as well as EAN membership renewal and I am very much looking forward to seeing the strong levels of engagement from the neurology community over the last year reflected in the number of people renewing their membership and signing up for our congress. As our EAN Secretary General, Elena Moro, outlined last month, we have never before offered more value to our members in terms of benefits, including greatly reduced congress registration fees. The overarching theme of next year’s congress will be ‘Getting Evidence into Practice’. With topics such as which clinical trial designs best inform practice; what evidence informs the use of diagnostic tests; and are guidelines a useful tool for improving outcomes, it promising to be a highly interesting and timely meeting.
One of the biggest benefits for all of us as members of the EAN is strength in numbers; together, we can achieve a great deal more than we can as individuals.
A great example of this is the EAN NEuroCOVID RegGistrY (ENERGY). By pooling experience and information from—so far—27 countries on four continents, we are building an increasingly vital resource for neurologists and other clinicians to improve care for COVID-19 patients. Numerous articles have been published since the launching of the ENERGY registry back in May 2020, such as The international European Academy of Neurology survey on neurological symptoms in patients with COVID‐19 infection and the Global Incidence of Neurological Manifestations Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19—A Report for the GCS-NeuroCOVID Consortium and the ENERGY Consortium. This kind of project demonstrates the value of organisations like EAN, outside of national structures and able to connect usually disparate parts into one large communal effort.
In the same vein, EAN has recently collaborated with the European Brain Council (EBC) and several other European specialty societies (including the patients’ organisation EFNA, and sleep (ESRS), psychiatric (EPA) and neuropediatric (EPNS) societies) to launch a new study to identify the socio-economic and individual consequences of insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness in the general population. As with previous EAN activities, the goal is to use the results of the study for advocacy and lobbying activities at EU level to promote sleep research and medicine activities.
The sharing of data and a general spirit of collaboration are at the heart of what has helped to tackle the ongoing pandemic. A core lesson to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis is that cooperation, solidarity, and holistic approaches are usually key factors in the most effective solutions. Everything is connected: health, social and economic structures are all interdependent, just as brain, mental, body and social health cannot be separated. It is somewhat clear then, that when a crisis hits one, the best measures to deal with the problem are usually those that address all aspects.
This philosophy is of course mirrored in the way the EAN approaches our mission. Achieving the ultimate aim of improving the availability of high-quality care is only possible when we take a wide view and put our resources into all the areas that support that aim. In that respect, I am pleased to say our efforts in promoting science and education are continuing with typical speed and efficiency. The EAN Education Committee Chair provided an update a few months ago on all the new programmes and initiatives we have recently introduced, and our Scientific Committee Chair, likewise, addressed the valuable ongoing work of the EAN’s Scientific Panels and Management Groups in his own recent address.
As we move forward, EAN is placing increasing emphasis on addressing an additional pillar of our mission: advocacy. I look forward to bringing you a detailed update on this particular area in next month’s issue.
See you in Vienna at EAN 2022. Until then, stay healthy!
Claudio Bassetti, EAN President