Neurological disorders pose a growing global health challenge with 10 million global deaths and 349 million disability-adjusted life years attributed each year, of which more than 90% stem from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite the increasing burden, access to services for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation is insufficient and inequitable, especially in LMICs. The World Health Organization (WHO) has responded to this challenge with its landmark Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) on Epilepsy and other neurological disorders aimed at fostering quality neurology services and promoting brain health worldwide by 2031. The plan is focused on eliminating barriers to neurological care by increasing awareness, optimizing brain health capacity and reducing the stigma associated with neurological conditions through an intersectoral collaborative approach. In line with this, we established The Global Brain Health Clinical Exchange Platform in November 2021 to promote brain health capacity building and address challenges in improving brain health around the world through monthly international knowledge exchange workshops. The first sessions centered on neurology in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with time, the platform evolved to discuss strategies on improving the global health of neurological conditions on a broader scale.
The interactive sessions include speakers, panels, open discussion and ultimately generate ideas and strategies for collaborative action. We have an established model for translating these discussions into action which has resulted in multiple international collaborative projects such as the validation of case definitions for neurological syndromes associated with COVID-19. Each workshop is open to all and typically includes physicians, neurologists, clinicians, academics, students, medical officers, public health workers, and social support group leaders. Learning, training, and funding opportunities are shared in each session.
Since its inception, the platform has had a growing global audience with a diverse portfolio of disciplines. More than 2000 people from 125 different countries, primarily LMICs, have engaged with the program. About 384 participants from 81 countries register monthly with 67% of them from LMICs and 25% working primarily in rural areas (Fig 1). The level of participants’ knowledge represents the full spectrum of the training ladder from specialist trainers to individuals with no formal training, demonstrating the intersectoral approach to increasing brain health awareness and dissemination. Some of the feedback from participants indicating the likely impact of the workshops include: “revising local biases in making clinical decisions;” “revising the signs and symptoms of neurological disorders;” “considering exposure to COVID-19 in patients affected by cognitive impairments due to neurodegenerative conditions and in those suffering from post-infection depression/anxiety;” and “continue campaigns on awareness for attitudinal change towards individuals with neurological disorders living in rural settings.”
Clinical exchange platforms take place on the last Friday of each month at 2 PM BST. You can find recordings of previous sessions and the registration link on our website. Tentative topics to discuss in the next upcoming sessions include: promoting intersectoral action for brain health, building capacity in global neurology, and implementing WHO’s neurology revolution. Moving forward, we hope to leverage our collective expertise and lived experience to meaningfully contribute to future guidelines and efforts to implement the IGAP. Individuals from all sectors are encouraged to join upcoming workshops and engage with future projects. We also welcome suggestions for topics and speakers you would like to hear from. For further information, reach out to us at email@example.com.
The Global Brain Health Clinical Exchange Platforms are monthly, free to access webinars, discussing strategies and challenges in promoting brain health across the world.
The webinars run on last Friday of each month at 2PM BST.
You can register at braininfectionsglobal.tghn.org/clinical-exchange/. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest topics and speakers.
Dr. Egbe N Franklyn, MSc, PhD is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Professor Benedict Michael's Infection Neuroscience laboratory at the University of Liverpool. His main research activity is assessing inflammatory and brain injury biomarkers in COVID-19 patients. He is a co-lead of the Global Brain Health Clinical Exchange platform. His research interests include infectious disease diagnostics, tuberculosis and COVID-19.
Dr. Greta K Wood, MBBS, MRes is a UK NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Infectious Diseases and Clinical Research Fellow for the national COVID-19 Clinical Neuroscience Study. Her research interests include infection neuroscience, multi-morbidity and pandemic infection. She is a member of the World Health Organization Neurology and Public Health Global Forum and leads the Global Brain Health Clinical Exchange. Twitter: @gkwood3 GBHCE Twitter: @GlobalBrainHea1
Arina Tamborska, MRCP, MBChB is a neurology resident and a clinical researcher based at the University of Liverpool and a postgraduate student at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research interests include vascular neurology, neuroepidemiology and COVID-19. She co-organizes the clinical exchange platform and currently leads international projects standardizing reporting in clinical neurology and COVID-19 research. Twitter: @atamborska