World Federation of Neurology Joins Forces with the World Health Organization, Announcing “Groundbreaking” Reclassification of Stroke as a Disorder of the Brain; Launches Nine-Country Survey, Leading to Roadmap for Improved Neurological Care

London, England. October 23, 2019 --The World Federation of Neurology (WFN) is joining forces with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create global standards of neurological care. The XXIV World Congress of Neurology (WCN 2019) taking place Oct. 27-31 in Dubai, UAE, will emphasize the importance of brain health, while educating and inspiring researchers and patients.

"The world's most burdensome diseases—stroke, dementia, and migraine—are all based in neurology," said Prof. William Carroll, AM, MB BS, MD, FRACP, FRCP(E), president of the World Federation of Neurology. "The question we are asking is how we can work together to reduce this global burden through education, public awareness, and dedicated resources."

The theme of WCN 2019, Accelerating the pace of change, is fitting since the shared goal of the WFN and WHO is to bring standardized neurological care to countries all over the globe. During WCN 2019, officials will provide details of the launch of a pilot survey of nine countries to explore their health systems, access to care and socioeconomics to develop a common approach to improved care and a roadmap that other countries can follow. The countries being surveyed are:

  • African region: Egypt, Nigeria and Cameroon.
  • Asian and Oceanian region: Japan, Philippines and Afghanistan.
  • Latin American region: Mexico, Bolivia and Honduras.

Also at WCN 2019, attendees will be educated on the important new features of the revised edition of the WHO's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 11. The ICD is developed by the WHO for the global standardized collection and reporting of health information.

"After 11 years of intensive work, WHO has just released the new ICD-11," said Prof. Raad Shakir, MSc, FRCP, Immediate past President of the WFN and Committee Chair of the WHO Topic Advisory Group Neurosciences. "It was created with the involvement of 270 institutions in 99 countries, making this a most widely consultative process."

The ICD-10 was originally approved in 1990 and put into use in 1992. The process to revise the Neurosciences section of ICD-10 began in 2009 with the goal to produce a new classification that would reflect modern medicine and practice. Significant to WCN 2019, neurology now has over 5,000 entities in ICD-11, covering all of the developments in the field of neurology and neurosurgery.

One of the most groundbreaking changes to the ICD -11 is the reclassification of stroke as a disease of the brain. Stroke was formerly designated as a circulatory disease, thus skewing stroke data away from nervous system disorders. Stroke was under the umbrella of "cardiovascular disease," a term commonly regarded as heart disease only. The updated classification is paramount for healthcare policy, making it easier to shift resources and funding to appropriately account for the impact neurological disorders have on public health.

Stroke is the second largest disease in terms of mortality and in terms of disability, and thanks to this change, it is no longer hidden under terminology or other headings.

This reclassification increases its visibility, potentially improving care for the patients, while providing physicians and researchers with a roadmap to reduce disparities in treatment.
Prof. Bo Norrving, past President of the World Stroke Organisation and responsible for the stroke part of the ICD-11.

The more than 4,000 attendees of WCN 2019 are gathering in Dubai at an auspicious time, as global health systems now prepare for the introduction of the ICD-11 from 2022 and onwards. This will move the field of neurology forward for the benefit of the patient, physician and researcher.

The Congress commences a new era in disease classification in the field of neurology.  With new guidelines, we can better work together to create a standardized approach to neurological care on a global basis. The impact could be quite significant."
Prof. Carroll.

For more information on the Congress, please visit


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About the World Federation of Neurology

The World Federation of Neurology represents 120 member neurological societies around the globe to foster quality neurology and brain health worldwide by promoting neurological education and training with an emphasis on under-resourced areas of the world. WFN supports the spread of accurate research and clinical information in the pursuit of improvements in the field of neurology. With support from member organizations around the globe, WFN unites the world to allow patients greater access to brain health.

For more information, please visit the WCN 2019 web site at, find our live stream press conferences on Facebook at, on Twitter at or by searching using the tag #WCN2019.


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