by Paul Boon, EAN President
Dear EAN members, friends and colleagues,
As the days start to get longer and brighter again, it feels very much as though activity at the EAN is expanding to fill up the daylight hours. So many plans are in progress for so many different events and projects that it can be difficult to keep track. Luckily, our incredible teams at both committee and head office level are working tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly. It is my pleasure to provide you with an update on what has been keeping us all busy over recent months.
A major focus for many of us within the EAN currently is the next Brain Health Summit on 9 May. After the success of the first Brain Health Summit last year, the value of holding such events was resoundingly confirmed, and it was immediately clear that we would make this a regular occurrence. This year’s summit will again highlight the importance of advocacy for neurology, alongside cooperation with national societies, international authorities, organisations, and other stakeholders, under the heading of ‘precision neurology and prevention of neurological diseases’. We will be joined by members of the European Brain Council, the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform, the Women’s Brain Project, and the European Federation of Neurological Associations, as well as members of our own EAN Board, for a programme of talks and panel discussions that will dig into the potential and progress of precision medicine in neurology from a variety of perspectives. The event will be live online, and participation is free of charge, so I urge you to read up on the details here and register right away! I am also pleased to inform you that we will be making a special announcement of a forthcoming and major new Brain Health initiative from the EAN. Be sure to catch the live stream on May 9!
Our Brain Health Summits and related events are all a part of the EAN’s broader push for greater awareness of brain health and the urgency of tackling the burden of neurological diseases. Our main approach in this regard—so far, at least—has been to build connections at a political level. The event we held at the European Parliament in December to share information about the EAN Strategic Research Agenda is one such example, as the ministers and stakeholders present are all a part of the wider network of allies for our mission. Creating opportunities to build relationships with them, keep them fully appraised of our plans, and bringing them into the EAN ecosystem, will hopefully increase the impact and reach of the Strategic Research Agenda, which is soon to be published in the European Journal of Neurology.
Advocating for neurology with EU bodies, supranational healthcare organisations, and individual politicians, is a key part of the process of gaining greater recognition of the needs of patients and the neurological workforce, as well as the societal and economic burdens of neurological disease. Our own Economic Burden of Neurological Diseases project was set up to provide a solid scientific background to this particular aspect of our message and its members have been making great progress in establishing methodologies and identifying the challenges in evaluating the true costs of illness of neurological disorders.
The better equipped we neurologists are to make our case, the stronger our position is, which is why we are now gauging interest among our members toward the idea of providing advocacy training. Our aim is to have a programme ready to announce in Autumn – an intention that was very well received by presidents and representatives of national neurological societies at our National Societies Forum on 29 March. Increasing knowledge within our profession of how to be an effective and influential advocate for neurology is something that can be of benefit to us all.
Advocacy was just one of many topics discussed at the National Societies Forum, which saw representatives of 25 countries’ national societies convene online for a 2-hour meeting. The forum gives us a golden opportunity to simultaneously update all of our national member societies on the EAN’s latest plans and ideas, while gathering valuable feedback and views in return. One of our main aims in hosting the Forum is to create a space for fostering relationships and aligning in our mission to advocate for brain health and neurology on a political level. Our influence is only as strong as our alliance, and we see the Forum as a cornerstone in achieving positive change for the neurological field and our patients. I was personally delighted to see so many of our esteemed colleagues join the session – a record level of participation, which I believe reflects the excellent relationships the EAN has managed to build throughout the neurology community. My heartfelt thanks to all who attended and we look forward to seeing you again at the Assembly of Delegates during the congress in Budapest and at the next National Neurological Societies Forum on November 9.
On behalf of the EAN, I will be attending the Annual Congress of the American Academy of Neurology in Boston on 22-27 April. I am pleased to be able to represent the EAN and discuss EAN’s brain health activities and global challenges in neurology at two sessions. Enhancing the transatlantic cooperation is an aim of my presidency and I greatly look forward to meeting my American colleagues.
Another subject that deserves all our attention is sustainability. It is an inescapable truth that the world is on a very dangerous path towards some potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change. As an organisation and as individuals, we have a responsibility to current and future generations to curb our excesses, conserve resources, and improve quality of life. Sustainability has been in focus for a long time at the EAN, and our Head Office and Committees try to implement environmentally, economically and socially sustainable practices within everything we do. We know there is always scope for improvement—and we are very much open to ideas and suggestions in that regard—but our current philosophy and strategies are now outlined on a dedicated section of our website, here.
Finally, I am extremely happy to share with you that our recently launched EAN Leadership Programme has found a receptive target audience. We received twice as much demand as we have available places, so the Leadership Task Force now has the difficult duty of reviewing the applications and we hope to inform the successful applicants later this month.
And by the way, don’t forget to register for EAN 2023 by 26 April to benefit from the reduced early fee! Make sure to get familiar with our membership options and either apply, renew, and upgrade your membership at least two weeks before the application deadline.
Paul Boon, EAN President