His Excellency Mr Harald Aspelund, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva and Ms Jane Ellison, WHO Executive Director for External Relations and Governance signed a new contribution agreement to support work towards integrated brain health, that will be led by a newly established unit within the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use. This agreement follows the endorsement by WHO Member States of the resolution calling for scaled-up and integrated action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders during the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly in November 2020.
The global burden of neurological conditions, which determine brain health, is very high, and contributes heavily to mortality and disability worldwide. We thank the Government of Iceland for their commitment to this underestimated issue. Iceland's support to this work is invaluable to helping WHO achieve its goal of promoting optimal brain development, cognitive health and wellbeing and preventing and managing neurological disorders across the life-course."
In the context of Universal Health Coverage and the SDG 2030 agenda and in line with WHO's existing mandates for mental health, epilepsy, dementia, NCDs, child and maternal health, aging, rehabilitation, workforce training and essential medicines and diagnostics, the goals of the new WHO brain health unit are to:
- strengthen policies, service delivery, health information systems, technology, research and innovation in the area of brain health, particularly in low- and middle-income countries;
- provide technical assistance and guidance on how to formulate an integrated approach to brain health conditions with a focus on promotion, prevention, treatment, care and rehabilitation, also considering social and environmental determinants of health, particularly in low- and middle-income countries; and
- foster increased investment and inter-agency collaboration globally as well as involvement of different specialties and sectors.
The brain health unit aims to achieve these goals by following a holistic person-centered approach that focuses on promotion, prevention, treatment, care and rehabilitation.