The WHO Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022–2031 (IGAP) was adopted at the WHO’s World Health Assembly on May 27, 2022. [https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA75/A75_10Add4-en.pdf]. Several other declarations and action plans were adopted at this assembly. For the World Stroke Organization the IGAP is of particular importance. The adoption of the IGAP is the result of several years of from years of advocacy and consultations with the WFN. It was initiated from the epilepsy societies and during the course extended to include also the entire spectrum of neurological disorders.
The IGAP may be the first action plan from WHO that specifically targets neurological disorders. As a result from the ICD-11 revision (officially in use since January 2022, but with different time lines for implementation in different countries), stroke is now placed under diseases of the nervous system and hence incuded in the IGAP. Actually, stroke is the single largest disease of all included in the IGAP, estimated to account for 42 % of the total burden of neurological diseases.
The IGAP provides a comprehensive response to the burden of neurological disorders in various settings around the world. Structured around five strategic objectives, ten targets and corresponding indicators, the global action plan suggests actions to Member States, WHO Secretariat and national and international partners to close the treatment gap for people with neurological disorders, address inequities, stigma and discrimination, and support quality diagnosis, treatment, management and care of neurological disorders. The IGAP has the following strategic objectives:
The IGAP is directed also to NGOs like the WSO. The IGAP therefore an excellent opportunity to link the activities of the WSO to be well aligned with the principles of the IGAP, and to strengthen the collaboration between the WSO and the WHO.
A first stakeholder meeting on implementation of the Intersectoral global action plan on
epilepsy and other neurological disorders with relevant NGOs took place in Geneva, August 5th, 2022 as a hybrid in person/virtual meeting. Eighteen NGOs were represented, including the WSO (Bo Norrving). The meeting was organized by the WHO Brain Health Unit and included the participation of
Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, and Tarun Dua, Head of the Brain Health Unit.
The meeting provided an overview of interventions already ongoing in the field, as well as existing guidelines and other documents from governmental bodies. Concrete steps for enhancing inter-NGO collaboration and NGO- WHO alliances at global, regional and national levels were discussed. Key deliverables outlined during the meeting included development of an advocacy tool for neurological disorders, an integrated approach to neurological disorders: Implementation toolkit, a review and update on Essential Medicines List and the Essential Diagnostics List as they applie to neurological disorders, a Global status report – with baseline data on global targets and narrative summaries, and defining implementation research priorities for neurological disorders.
All members of the WSO should be aware of the existence of the IGAP and the opportunity this action plan gives to strengthen and support the work of the WSO. The work to implement the action plan has just started and concrete actions are starting to be defined. The WSO is one of the core NGOs in the work to implement the IGAP. Given the large burden of stroke among the neurological disorders and the solid evidence-based knowledge on how to prevent and to treat stroke, the WSO is well placed in this work.
Bo Norrving, for the WSO Global Policy Committee
Achieving our vision of a life free from stroke is a task that WSO cannot achieve alone. We are committed to building our partnerships at the global, regional and national level to scale up and deliver improvements in prevention, treatment and support to reduce the burden of stroke.