Dear EAN members, friends, and colleagues,
If you have been keeping track over the last year, you will probably have noticed that the most commonly recurring theme in my articles for EANpages – as well as in my speeches at EAN Congresses and numerous other events – has been brain health. At the start of my presidency, I named it as the first on a list of key priorities for the EAN during my term, and it has remained at the forefront of our agenda ever since. It has been my pleasure to preview and report on the now biannual EAN Brain Health Summit, which has gained increasing attention to the point where it is now a major event on the EAN calendar; and the Brain Health Mission, which I had the honour of announcing during the most recent Brain Health Summit in May, has provided the focus for an approach to engaging a much broader audience, spreading the message about brain health beyond our usual reach, to the general public and anyone interested in the brain.
Following a wonderful EAN Congress 2023 in Budapest, which also saw a strong emphasis on brain health, I am, pleased to say that the emphasis on this subject from the EAN and our partners has stepped up even further. On 18 September, I had the privilege to attend the Brain Health and Research Day as part of the Science Summit at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, organised by the European Brain Council in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Public Policy, the Brain Capital Alliance, the Brain Health Nexus and supporting partners (read our full report here). Alongside other international experts, I was invited to participate in a panel on ‘Community Perspectives and Addressing the Challenges…Together?’ examining how different countries and regions have mobilised thus far and what areas for collaboration exist in order to tackle brain health collaboratively at a global scale. This was a welcome opportunity, not only to share our own progress with our colleagues overseas, but to learn from their experience and perspectives. The same can be said of the Brain Health Summit of the American Academy of Neurology on 21 September in Washington DC, which I also had the chance attend. Both events offered fantastic opportunities for professionals across disciplines to come together and discuss how to take action on the top priorities within brain health.
Next on the schedule will be our own Brain Health Summit on 16 November, in Brussels, focusing on ‘Brain Disorders: The Neglected Burden in Non-Communicable Diseases’. The programme is currently being finalised and will be available shortly on our website. I am very much looking forward to building on our progress so far and taking this next step on our mission to build greater awareness of brain health and the urgency of tackling the burden of neurological diseases.
All our activities in the realm of brain health can be considered part of the EAN’s wider mission to increase awareness of neurological diseases, the burden they place on patients, caregivers, healthcare systems and society in general, and the urgency of tackling that burden. Advocating directly with EU bodies, supranational healthcare organisations, and individual politicians, is a key part of this process, but it requires specific skills and knowledge to carry out effectively. This is why the EAN has taken the decision to develop an advocacy training programme for our members. I am pleased to reveal that application will open later this month for the first programme, running from January to June 2024. It will consist of three modules led by international experts in advocacy, public health, and communications, with the overall aim of training neurologists at any level to be able to advocate for brain health and neurology and bridge the gap between medical and political focus. If this opportunity appeals to you, please keep your eyes on the EAN website, EANpages, and our social media channels for the official launch.
Another event on the horizon which is also aligned with our mission to advocate for neurology and brain health is the National Neurological Societies Forum on 9 November. As every year, we are aiming to bring together presidents and delegates of all 47 European national neurological societies for this virtual meeting, to exchange updates and discuss current and upcoming activities. Keeping in close contact with the leaders and influencers in neurology in individual countries is essential as we aim to put brain health on the political agenda across Europe and equip neurologists with the necessary tools, resources, and information to achieve this. I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with our national partners at this upcoming event and learning more about how we can support each other in pursuit of our common goals.
Finally, I am happy to announce that we have made significant progress with our Strategic Neurological Research Agenda for Europe since its announcement last year. A great deal of work has gone into the production of the paper, which is ultimately intended to establish a framework for researchers, funding agencies and sponsors to align their research goals in neurology with the values and needs of the patient community. I look forward to providing further updates on this valuable initiative as we work towards publishing the work.
I wish you all a very pleasant autumn and look forward to addressing as many of you as possible during the Brain Health Summit on 16 November.