Atlas: Country resources for neurological disorders 2nd Edition

It is now recognized that neurological disorders contribute significantly to global disability, often leading to serious physical, cognitive and psychosocial limitations. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study identifies mental, neurological and substance use disorders as a significant cause of the world’s disease burden. The most recent estimates show that stroke is the second highest cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Dementia, meningitis and migraine rank in the top 30 factors in disability-adjusted life years, and epilepsy in the top 50, out of 315 diseases and injuries included.

There is a growing recognition that the burden of neurological disorders is disproportionately high in low- and middle-income countries, where health-care services and resources are often scarce. Importantly, the neurological burden of disease is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade, with highest burden in low- and middle-income countries. Innovative health-care management approaches are required in these countries because of the lack of specialist care. Though attitudes and knowledge of the burden of neurological disorders are starting to improve, increased financial investment and policy changes are ultimately required to improve neurological care globally.

About the Neurology Atlas (second edition)

The Neurology Atlas (second edition) is a project of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland. The Atlas project on neurological disorders is supervised and coordinated by Shekhar Saxena and Tarun Dua from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. The project was conducted in close collaboration with the World Federation of Neurology (WFN), coordinated by Raad Shakir and Donna Bergen.

Project Atlas is an assessment of the current infrastructure of health-care for people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders, and provides comprehensive information on the availability of services and resources across the world. The Neurology Atlas project spans several domains, including national health-care policies, financing of care for neurological disorders, access to essential neurological medicines and national guidelines on neurological disorders. The data are intended to serve as a resource for plans to improve the deficits in neurological care both at country level and globally. The burden of neurological disorders will continue to grow during the next decades, and plans need to be implemented to improve current health-care.

The second edition provides a comprehensive update of global neurological resources since the publication of the first edition in 2004, when an initial assessment of available neurology resources in WHO Member States was carried out, and results from 109 countries surveyed showed that global resources for neurological disorders are lacking, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This current edition expands upon the topics addressed in the first edition, compiling data from 132 countries and two territories spanning all WHO regions and continents and representing 94% of the world population.

In WHO Member States, key project collaborators were focal points from ministries of health and neurologists from national professional organizations. They provided information and responses to the Atlas survey questionnaire and responded to queries for clarification. Additional information from countries and territories was provided by key persons working in the field of neurology identified by WFN and WHO regional and country offices. A full list of collaborators is provided in Annex 1 of this report.


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