Education and global knowledge transfer improve neurological care worldwide

XXIII WCN 2017, Kyoto, Japan, 16-21 September 2017

More than 8,000 experts are gathered at the XXIII World Congress of Neurology in Kyoto from 16 to 21 September. The event not only includes an extensive education and training programme – ongoing education activities that aim to boost standards globally were furthermore presented

Kyoto, September 2017 – “When it comes to receiving the best possible treatment, the deciding factor cannot be depending on where a patient is born or settled.” This is a central message from the Secretary General of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN), Prof Wolfgang Grisold at the XXIII World Congress of Neurology in Kyoto. “One of the WFN’s most important goals is to help by bringing about improved neurological care worldwide.” For a number of years, a key part of this initiative has been an extensive education and training programme that aims to ensure knowledge transfer across national borders. 

Low income countries are the focus and principle target group for these activities. “Sadly there are still plenty of regions that lack the funds for even rudimentary care. In many developing countries, patients still do not have access to neurological expertise, diagnostic modalities, and treatments,” says Prof Steven Lewis, Chair of the WFN Education Committee. Experts estimate that at least 250 million people in developing countries suffer from neurological conditions. Around 80 percent of incidents of stroke affect people in low- and middle-income countries.

This is exacerbated by care structures that are unimaginable compared with Western standards: while industrialised countries have at least three neurologists per 100,000 inhabitants, in low income regions this figure drops to just 0.03. In many African countries, the situation is even more dire. Studies show that in 23 countries on that continent there is only one neurologist for every five million people. 

Other focuses include ensuring that the numerous – and often rapid – developments can spread as quickly as possible worldwide. “Keeping up with all the latest developments is a vital part of ensuring access to the highest standards of care for patients all over the world,” Prof Grisold notes. The WFN supports this goal by, among other endeavours, assisting in the distribution of key literature on neurology to a worldwide readership. 

To promote the international exchange of knowledge and experience, the WFN has also set up WFN regional teaching centres to support training at the local level, for example in Africa and South America. These WFN teaching centres should provide local high quality training and also empower the regions.

Department visit programmes for doctors from developing countries to neurology clinics in Germany, Turkey, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Canada or Austria provide insights into standards and treatment regimes in these countries. “These are important catalysts for healthcare provision in less privileged parts of the world,” Prof Grisold explains. 

The WFN Education Committee also has a number of major projects in the planning and development phases: According to Prof Lewis, another of the organisation’s goals is to develop a global neurology training curriculum to assist in improving standards of neurological training worldwide.

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