Plans to prioritize brain health

At a special joint EAN/EFNA session at EAN 2019, the state secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services presented the Norwegian National Brain Plan, the first of its kind to be launched in Europe. The European Brain Council advocates for the development of National Brain Plans across Europe in order to prioritize neurological disorders on the political agenda and ensure optimal outcomes for patients and healthcare systems.

The burden of brain disease

Worldwide, neurological disorders are a leading cause of disability adjusted life years (DALYs), accounting for 10% of global DALYs, among which stroke and dementia are responsible for half of the burden.1 Around 60% of Europeans suffer a neurological disease, and neurology is the third highest cause of disease burden (DALYs) and deaths in Europe.

Neurological disorders are the third highest cause of disease burden and deaths in Europe and are suffered by 60% of Europeans

The increasing numbers of people affected by neurological disorders and the longevity of affected people living with disability places a heavy demand on societies and their healthcare systems. Successful strategies to control non-communicable diseases must include current and future understanding of the brain. There is still no cure for most brain disorders, hence it is necessary to focus on risk reduction, address the stigma of disease, prevention, early detection and research.


Norwegian Brain Heath Strategy

The Norwegian Brain Health Strategy was launched in response to a recognized need to prioritize brain health on the political agenda, following the Norwegian Year of the Brain in 2015 and a national status report on brain health in Norway.2 This report identified unmet needs as: variable degrees of cooperation between different levels of treatment, unequal access to expertise, low user involvement, lack of statistics and a need for further research.

The goals of the Norwegian Brain Health Strategy (2018-2024) are multiple:

  1. Good lifelong brain health, prevention and quality of life
  2. Health and care services that see the patient as a partner and take better care of relatives
  3. Good care from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation
  4. Adequate knowledge and quality through research and innovation.

To achieve the objectives an action plan is ongoing in partnership with representatives from primary care, patient organizations, regional health researchers, and the Norwegian Brain Council. Action plan measures so far include information campaigns for acute stroke symptoms, acute medicine in the elderly, organized patient care in stroke, and implementation of ParkinsonNet, the model for follow-up of chronic neurological diseases. Investment in a new National Center of Excellence for clinical research on serious disease of the central nervous system was also announced.

The Norwegian National Brain Health Strategy is the first National Brain Plan to be launched in Europe


Promoting National Brain Plans

The European Brain Council (EBC) is an umbrella organization supporting the operation of National Brain Councils with the aim of expanding brain research and promoting brain health in Europe.3 The EBC encourages EU member states to work closely with patient representatives, scientific societies and clinicians within National Brain Councils towards designing and establishing National Brain Plans.

This Norwegian National Brain Health Strategy could be replicated and implemented across Europe, tailored for each country. Europe will undergo major societal transformations, such as the aging population. This will impact brain diseases requiring health services to adapt to these changes.
National Brain Health Plans may serve to raise public awareness of brain diseases, lobby governments and integrate the best science to improve outcomes for both patients and society.
It is anticipated that the Polish National Brain Plan will be launched on World Brain Day on 22nd July 2019.

If you want to learn more about burden of disease in countries around the world visit the Lundbeck Institute Campus Disease Atlas.

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.


1 GBD 2016 Neurology Collaborators. Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet Neurol. 2019;18:439-58.

2 Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Public Health Report: Health Status in Norway 2018. Oslo: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 2018.

3 Morris RG et al. Consensus Statement on European Brain Research: the need to expand brain research in Europe 2015. Eur J Neurosci. 2016;44:1919-26.

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