By staging World Brain Day on 22 July every year, the World Federation of Neurology and its 120 national member societies seek to raise awareness of the significance of brain health. This year the awareness campaign will focus on the negative impact of air pollution on brain health.

London, May 2018 – World Brain Day was launched by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) on 22 July 2014 and is dedicated to a different neurological disease or topic every year. The date for this awareness day was not chosen at random: The WFN was founded on 22 July 1957 in Brussels. For 2018, the WFN has decided to devote World Brain Day to the subject of “Clean air for brain health”.

The topic is most timely, says World Brain Day Chair Prof Mohammad Wasay, Karachi: “The latest estimation of deaths attributable to air pollution worldwide is 12 million deaths annually. In particular, the suspected impact of air pollution on the brain is an emerging and worrisome issue, with more and more data showing that it may be a more important risk factor for stroke than previously thought.”

The recent Global Burden of Disease study, for example, has investigated data from 1990 to 2013 in 188 countries. It demonstrated that air pollution contributes to up to 30 percent of the global stroke burden. The list of possible air pollution and environmental pollution adverse effects is increasing. Neuro-developmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, possibly also neuroinflammatory diseases are discussed among others as having a potential association with polluted air.

It has become clear that prevention of brain health is not only an individual concern, but must be considered at the societal level. “Air pollution is a potentially modifiable risk factor for some cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases”, says WFN Secretary General Prof Wolfgang Grisold. “This enlarging worldwide public health problem requires environmental health policies able to reduce air pollution to protect brain health and not only lungs.”

Wakeup call on behalf of brain health

Our initiative to stage a World Brain Day is also a wakeup call for political and policy decision-makers the world over. Regardless of the enormous burden that they cause, neurological diseases are not included to an adequate degree on the health policy agenda
WFN President Prof William Carroll.
The message we are conveying with World Brain Day is clear: The priorities in policy and funding must focus much more on brain health than in the past. Brain health should be treated as one of the highest-level healthcare priorities.


120 national societies and regional partners participating in the campaign

The 119 national member societies of the WFN and important regional partners such as the European Academy of Neurology spread the message of World Brain Day at the national, regional and international level by holding events and implementing educational and awareness activities. The WFN provides promotional and educational material such as posters, brochures and presentations. An important focus of the campaign is the use of social media.

Further information

Further information and promotional material which can also be adapted for the use on the regional or national level can be found at

WFN Press Office for World Brain Day

Dr Birgit Kofler
B&K – Bettschart & Kofler Kommunikationsberatung
+43 1 319 43 78 
Twitter: @wfneurology
Hashtag: #WorldBrainDay