Landmark event in global neurology, the seventy-third World Health Assembly adopted the much-awaited resolution on synergies addressing the leading cause of disability globally—the burden of epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Professor Tissa Wijeratne interviewed Professor William Carroll, President, World Federation of Neurology on this important event.


There is no health without brain health. This is the most important event in brain health with an enormous impact and opportunity to address the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Professor Carroll says.


Neurological disorders are the conditions of your brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves that include epilepsy, migraine, stroke, dementia and neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, infections and developmental disorders affecting the nervous system.

Neurological disorders are responsible for nearly 80% of deaths and disability-adjusted life years in low to middle-income countries, where almost two-thirds of the global population live. It is estimated that one in three people globally has a neurological disorder at some point in their lifetime.

In this interview, Professor Carroll talks about the burning issues of shortage of workforce ( lack of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroscience nursing and allied health staff for both adult and pediatric populations ), limited access to cost-effective medications and how we might address the issues such as lack of knowledge, stigma and discrimination concerning neurological disorders.

The resolution affirms the following aspects of the care continuum to address the treatment gaps for neurological disorders and epilepsy.

  1. Prevention
  2. Diagnosis and treatment
  3. Management and rehabilitation

The WHO commitment on integrated response to epilepsy and other neurological disorders will lead to an integrated public health response to the World leading cause of disability, neurological disorders.

The proposed strategies will involve strengthening national and international efforts and providing global leadership support with coordinated actions involving all stakeholders.

The strategies will also involve investing in and improving access to early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment, investing in capacity building and training, improving public attitude and reducing stigma and strengthening health information systems by building national capacity to collect, analyse and report on the health system and population data and fostering national and international translational research using artificial intelligence and precision medicine with the aims of finding a cure for more neurological disorders.


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Further information

About the World Health Assembly

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organisation, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

What has been the focus of WHA73?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seventy-third World Health Assembly (WHA73) is being held in two parts this year.

The first virtual de miminis session was held on 18-19 May with an abridged agenda focusing on the global pandemic.

Member states adopted a landmark resolution co-sponsored by more than 130 countries to bring the world together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The consistent message throughout the two-day meeting, including from the 14 heads of state participating, was that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak. The resolution is a concrete manifestation of this call, laying out a roadmap for ending the pandemic.

On 9-14 November, Member States are convening a resumed session to discuss the full agenda that has been deferred from May 2020.

Since May, Member States have adopted a number of decisions – the Immunization Agenda 2030, the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030, Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property as well as initiatives to tackle cervical cancer, tuberculosis, eye care, food safety, and influenza preparedness.

The resumed session will discuss amongst a total agenda of over 50 items, a 10-year-plan for addressing neglected tropical diseases, as well as efforts to address meningitis, epilepsy and other neurological disorders, maternal infant and young child nutrition, digital health, and the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, adopted in 2010.