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Foreword – European Neurological Review, 2011;6(4):226-226

Published Online: January 3rd 2012
Authors: Alastair Benbow, Mary Baker
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We would like to welcome you to the latest edition of European Neurological Review. This Issue covers several major and topical areas, diseases which demand the attention of policymakers and politicians throughout Europe, particularly the neurodegenerative conditions and stroke. Between them they contribute much to the total cost and burden to patients and the payers. The total cost of brain disorders in Europe was recently shown by a European Brain Council study (utilising the most up to date epidemiological and health economic data) to be €798 billion, more than the cost of cancer, cardiovascular disorders and diabetes combined.1
In part this is related to the chronic nature of brain disorders, in part through the huge advances made in the treatment of these other conditions, more patients surviving cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Surviving to then develop long term, progressive and disabling brain disorders. These data focus the mind on the challenges all of us must face, but, just as importantly, we need to be part of the solution.
With this in mind, the European Brain Council launched a call for 2014 to be made the European Year of the Brain. We have created a coalition of nearly 200 organisations, the European institutions are listening and we are hopeful that they will have the courage to join us in making this a European Year like never seen before.
We have created a very ambitious programme to celebrate the wonder of the brain but also to demonstrate to the public the best way to nurture, protect and preserve our most vital asset, our brains. We plan to have a mobile brain exhibit visiting more than 900 cities and towns across Europe, a comprehensive schools and university programme, a digital and social media campaign and cultural, sporting and scientific events with hundreds of brain ambassadors.2
Science and research and the efforts of healthcare professionals and researchers are vital to make the progress needed with the conditions discussed in this edition. But this alone will not be enough. Much needs to be done to improve the quality of life for all those who have a brain disorder and their families and carers, this can only truly be achieved by prevention wherever possible, earlier and accurate diagnosis, faster and more appropriate use of treatment, better regulatory processes that are truly fit for purpose and health technology assessment that also recognises outcomes of relevance to patients. We also need to encourage greater responsibility by all Europeans for their health and the health of their families. This will need considerable education and much more targeted information and engagement. The time for action is now. ■

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References

  1. Gustavsson A, Svensson M, Jacobic F, et al., Cost of disorders of the brain in Europe 2010, Eur Neuropsychopharmacol, 2011; in press. Available at: www.europeanbraincouncil.org/pdfs/Publications_/Cost%20of%20Disorders%20of%20the%20Brain%20in%20Europe%20-%20EurNeuro2011.pdf (accessed 20 December 2011).
  2. European Brani Council (EBC), European Year of the Brain 2014, European Year of the Brain Materials. Available at: www.europeanbraincouncil.org/projects/eyob/materials.asp (accessed 20 December 2011).

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