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News article

Global Neuro Crisis

19 March 2024

New research published in The Lancet Neurology has confirmed that neurological conditions are now the leading cause of ill health and disability globally. More than four in 10 of the world population lived with a neurological condition in 2021, approximately 3.4 billion people.

Researchers calculated the overall burden of neurological conditions, using Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) – a time-based measure that combines years of life lost due to premature mortality, and years of life lost due to time lived in reduced health, or years of healthy life lost due to disability.

In Western Europe, the ten conditions that accounted for the greatest nervous system DALYs in 2021 were migraine, stroke, dementia, diabetic neuropathy, autism, nervous system cancer, epilepsy, neurological complications due to preterm birth, neonatal encephalopathy and spinal cord injury.

The research found that neurological conditions were responsible for 443 million years of healthy life lost due to illness, disability, and premature death (disability-adjusted life years) in 2021, making them the top contributor to the global disease burden, ahead of cardiovascular diseases. Collectively, neurodevelopmental and paediatric conditions were estimated to account for almost a fifth of the total neurological burden worldwide, equivalent to 80 million years of healthy life lost in 2021.

The study will support the World Health Organization’s Intersectoral Global Action Plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders 2022–2031 (IGAP), which aims to reduce the impact and burden of neurological conditions and improve the quality of life of people with neurological conditions. The UK is signed up to this plan as a member of WHO. To date, no assessment has been made of the UK’s delivery against its recommendations.

Read The Lancet Neurology report here >

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