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Major Activities of the WFN

By Wolfgang Grisold

Wolfgang Grisold

Wolfgang Grisold

Welcome to this issue of World Neurology.  We are glad to have several informative articles again. I wish to express my thanks to all concerned, including Steven Lewis and Walter Struhal, the editors of World Neurology. They make World Neurology successful and provide a valuable source of information on the WFN and global neurology.

WFN Major Events

Adoption of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders

The first event in late May 2022 was the acceptance of the international global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders 2022- 2031 (IGAP) by WHO Member States at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. I was personally present for the entire week in Geneva and made a statement in support of the IGAP on behalf of WFN as a non-State actor in official relations with WHO. In addition to the fantastic news of the acceptance of IGAP, I was privileged to attend the WHA and witness the re-election of Secretary General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. I had time to attend two side events, one held by the Alzheimer’s  Association and one held by One Neurology with the European Federation of Neurologic Associations (EFNA), which gave valuable information on some neurology topics.

Geneva conference

I also want to make a note of a joint webinar done with the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) on the occasion of IGAP being adopted that occurred on May 28. There is more detail on IGAP below and on the WFN website.

The next issue of the Journal of the Neurological Sciences (JNS) will publish an article written by the WHO, titled “Brain Health as a Global Priority,” which explains the brain health conceptualization from the WHO for the IGAP and will be accompanied by an editorial by the WFN trustees.

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The second important news event is WFN’s application for the UN­—Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations at its 2022 Regular Session, held in May and June, decided to recommend the World Federation of Neurology for special consultative status with ECOSOC. This recommendation is subject to the endorsement of the Economic and Social Council, which will consider and take action on the committee’s recommendations at a management meeting in late July 2022.

Wolfgang Grisold at the WHO

One of the critical, wide-ranging activities of ECOSOC is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” They address the global challenges we face, including health, poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

World Brain Day

Brain health and IGAP are closely connected with WFN’s World Brain Day (WBD).  This year, the topic of World Brain Day is Brain Health, with the tagline “Brain Health for All.” The WBD organizing committee has all six WFN regional associations involved in planning, and we hope to continue the momentum of this positive communication after July 22.

Wolfgang Grisold delivering the WFN statement.

The topic of brain health also links with our previous Brain Health Initiative, WHO’s Brain Health unit, the IGAP, and many other activities such as the EAN Brain Health summit. To celebrate WBD on July 22, the WFN will host a webinar, which will focus on key messages of brain health, provide statements from the regions, and offer a Q/A session. We hope the WFN Member Societies will be able to celebrate WBD in their countries and regions. A toolbox with useful WBD material can be downloaded from the WFN website.

Council of Delegates

The Council of Delegates meeting (COD) is the annual decisive meeting of the WFN. This year’s meeting will take place

Oct. 25, 2022, in Amsterdam, in conjunction with the ECTRIMS conference. It will be a live meeting of delegates, but we will also provide a hybrid platform for those who cannot attend.

An Officer and Elected Trustee will be voted on 1) the position of the Secretary-General (vacated by myself), and the position of one trustee (vacated by Steven Lewis). The WFN Nominating Committee has scrutinized the applications, and you will find their proposal and all the candidates’ statements on the website soon. As in all COD meetings, the Trustees’ Report and several other reports and documents will be presented to the delegates.­­

Voting will be electronic, before the in-person portion of the meeting. Instructions and help will be provided by the WFN secretariat.

Education, Training Centers, and Department Visits

One of the core activities and mission of the WFN is to promote quality neurology through education. We are glad that the educational activities of the WFN prosper, and the trustees have decided to add a 4-year complete training to Rabat and also a fellowship on stroke in Cape Town.

This increases our 4-year training positions in Africa to three, and the WFN 1-year fellowships in Africa to four. We are indebted to our Specialty Group on Neuromuscular Disease and their International Congress on Neuromuscular Disease (ICNMD), which sponsors an additional fellowship for neuromuscular diseases in Rabat and also has invited the last ICNMD trainee to the ICNMD congress in Brussels this year.

The next fellowship calls will be for Cairo and Mexico. A site for the Asian Training Center has not been decided upon.

The WFN`s mission to provide education is aimed not only at supporting individual training but to help and empower the regions in their efforts to train neurologists in high-standard WFN teaching centers. This activity in Africa is achieved jointly with African Academy of Neurology (AFAN), and in Latin America with the Mexican Academy of Neurology and Pan American Federation of Neurology (PAFNS).

The WFN Department Visits were paused during the COVID pandemic, and we have now advertised Department Visits for Austria, Canada, and Germany, with a total of nine positions open. We are grateful to our Member Societies for giving young neurologists this important opportunity.

Educational Days

The WFN has developed the concept of E-learning Days, which were initially aimed at Africa. This is a one-day concept with a mix of regional and international speakers. The WFN and AFAN have organized E-learning Days on stroke and epilepsy. This year‘s theme is movement disorders, to be held on Sept. 3.

In cooperation with AFAN and the International Headache Society Global Patient Coalition (IHS GPAC), we have had another virtual program on “Education in Headache to Healthcare Providers in Africa.” We want to thank our partners for their generous support.

Participation in the educational days is free, and a certificate of attendance can be obtained after providing feedback on the event.

The platform for the educational days has been well established, and many thanks to Riadh Gouider, who spent considerable time building this structure jointly with a Tunisian professional conference organizer (PCO).

Webinar

In March, the WFN held a webinar on “The Neural Regulation of Cancer,” organized by the WFN Specialty Group on Neuro-Oncology on the topic of “The Neural Regulation of Cancer.”

It was a high-quality webinar focusing on new aspects of neurobiology. This webinar was hosted with the successful cooperation of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) and had 300 attendees.

Congresses and Meetings

International Congress of Neuromuscular Diseases ICNMD

The WFN Neuromuscular Specialty Group, the ICNMD, is preparing for the congress in Brussels in July. All topics of neuromuscular diseases are covered, and it seems the large number of participants that was reached at the ICNMD 2018 in Vienna will be reached again. The local organizing chair is Prof. Gauthier Remiche from Brussels, and the PCO is ICS.

The WFN ICNMD will have a session on neuromuscular issues in low-income parts of the world, and will be chaired by Riadh Gouider and Wolfgang Grisold.

The next ICNMD congress will be in Perth in 2025, and a call for the ICNMD following Perth is going out soon.

World Congress of Neurology (WCN) 2023

The next WCN will be in Montreal, Canada, from Oct. 13-19, 2023.

The Canadian Neurological Society will co-host this congress, and the congress chair is Prof. Guy Rouleaux, WFN vice president.

The preparations for the scientific program are in full development and chaired by Prof. Matthew Kiernan. Please follow our website and social media for further developments and announcements. For the second time, this congress will be in part also virtually available as a hybrid.

World Congress of Neurology WCN 2025 Seoul

Following the WCN in Montreal, the next WCN in 2025 will take place in Seoul, South Korea, and the organizational work has been initiated.

EAN Vienna, June 2022 

At the end of June, the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) held its congress in Vienna, Austria. The WFN had a leadership meeting with the EAN, a joint session on brain health, and hosted a mixed live/virtual WFN trustee meeting. In addition to the Regional Teaching Course and the participation of the WFN in the Brain Health Summit, further cooperation was discussed.

We will continue to participate in meetings of each of the six regional associations and have joint sessions to discuss present issues and provide visions for the future.

Summary

The past months have been a success for neurology worldwide, with the WFN actively involved. Special thanks to the previous administration, Prof. Bill Carroll, who was supported by Prof. Alla Guekht and WFN Strategy and Program Director Kimberly Karlshoej, who proceeded with the important activity of relations with the WHO and IGAP and also laid the foundations of this continuing development.

Yet celebration needs to be followed by action, and the IGAP will need further work and implementation, which consists of awareness and advocacy for political action, treatment and therapy, rehabilitation, prevention, innovation, and research. All WFN Member Societies are invited to be involved in this global mission.

The implementation of IGAP is a vast worldwide advocacy project, which demands effort — both bottom-up and top-down approaches are needed. •

Environment, Climate, and Neurological Diseases

Webinar by the Environmental Neurology Specialty Group (ENSG).

By Safa Younis and Mohammad Wasay

Safa Younis and Mohammad Wasay

In honor of World Environment Day celebrated annually on June 5, the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) hosted a webinar to raise awareness and explore the relationship between environmental factors and the brain. This webinar unpacked variables such as climate change and chemical pollutants as risk factors for neurological disorders.

Esteemed neurologists from around the world spoke at this event, including Dr. Mohammad Wasay, who moderated the webinar, Dr. Wolfgang Grisold (WFN president), Dr. Gustavo Roman (ENSG president), Dr. Jacques Reis, Dr. Anna Ranta, Dr. Peter Spencer, Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dr. Serefenur Ozturk, Dr. Augustina Charway Felli, Dr. Hidehiro Mizusawa, Dr. Teresa Corona, and Dr. Alla Guekht.

Of the many themes discussed, Dr. Reis elaborated on environmental challenges that society faces and the neurologists’ role as the climate changes. He specifically examined the correlation between climate change and an increase in neurological diseases. He said that according to the World Economic Forum Davos: The Global Risks Report 2022 — climate action failure, extreme weather events, and biodiversity losses will likely be the most concerning global risks over the next decade. Further, Dr. Anna Ranta conferred the benefits of green spaces on vascular brain health. There is evidence that exposure to green spaces has a positive impact on stroke prevention, severity, and mortality. Dr. Peter Spencer discussed the climate-relevant neurotoxic botanicals linked with human motor-neuron diseases such as Lathyrus sativus, Cycas micronesica, Manihot esculenta, and Gyromitra esculenta. He demonstrated that these botanicals can be linked to certain neurological diseases such as Lathyrism, Cassavism, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Parkinsonism-Dementia Complex.

Dr. Philip Landrigan spoke about climate change, chemical pollution and the developing human brain. There is growing evidence that toxic chemicals can cause neurodevelopmental disorders in children, since they are more sensitive to chemicals in the environment compared to adults. Dr. Landrigan also expressed that there may be countless unrecognized chemicals causing neurotoxicity in children. He stated a great example of how lead was removed from gasoline, which was known to cause neurotoxicity. The benefits for this action included a 2- to 5-point gain in population mean IQ and a $200 billion annual economic benefit to the U.S. through increased economic productivity of more intelligent and creative children, simply by removing one neurotoxic chemical from the environment. Dr. Gustavo Roman shared lessons learned from COVID-19 from an environmental point of view.

Dr. Wolfgang Grisold concluded the program by emphasizing the importance of this discussion in our everyday lives. This enlightening webinar encourages future research that assesses the correlation between environmental factors and neurological conditions.

Dr. Serefnur Ozturk (ENSG vice president) emphasized policy changes to improve air pollution and brain health. Dr. Augustina Charway (African Academy of Neurology president) discussed brain health challenges in Africa. •

Mohammad Wasay is Alicharan Endowed Professor of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Aga

Khan University, Karachi, and Secretary General, Environmental Neurology Specialty group, WFN.

Election Announcement

In March, the Nominating Committee of the WFN invited nominations for the positions of:

Secretary General [4-year term] 

To take office from Jan. 1, 2023
Position vacated by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Grisold


Candidates (in alphabetical order)

  • Marianne de Visser
  • Steven Lewis
  • Tissa Wijeratne


One Elected Trustee   [3-year term]

To take office immediately following the council of delegates meeting.
Position vacated by Dr. Steven Lewis upon the end of his second term of office


Candidates (in alphabetical order)

  • Minerva López Ruiz
  • Chandrashekhar Meshram
  • Bo Norrving
  • Mohammad Wasay

As in the previous two elections—2020 and 2021—voting will take place by remote online ballot. This method of voting enables all member societies to vote in the elections, regardless of whether or not they are able to attend the Council of Delegates meeting, but also reduces the impact that adverse conditions, such as differences in time zone or difficulties caused by COVID restricted travel, may have to sound decision-making when voting.

Voting will take place between Oct. 3-16, 2022, before the WFN AGM Council of Delegates meeting.

Further information on how to vote, including an instructional video, will be sent out to WFN member societies on Sept. 5 together with online registration to attend the AGM.

The results of the voting will be announced during the Council of Delegates meeting. •

 

Public Education Activities in India

By Chandrashekhar Meshram, Nirmal Surya, U Meenakshisundaram, and Gagandeep Singh.

The Indian Academy of Neurology is highly committed to public education and awareness activities regarding neurological disorders. It carries these events throughout the year. The idea is to educate general public about the disorders in order to help them for early diagnosis and better patient care. In view of the COVID pandemic, these activities were organized as virtual meetings and were well attended. The audience also got the opportunity to interact with the experts.

IAN President Nirmal Surya inaugurated the events. National coordinator for IAN public awareness programs, Chandrashekhar Meshram, had prepared and released the press notes and organized the sessions. Articles were published in leading newspapers. Some sessions were also organized in regional languages.

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day – Jan. 30

NTDs are widespread in the world’s poorest regions, where water safety, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. NTDs affect over 1 billion people globally and are caused mostly by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins. Gagandeep Singh, president-elect of IAN, Manish Modi, Shripad Pujari, Devashish Ruikar, Rajesh Verma, and Chandrashekhar Meshram were the expert panelists. Rahul Kulkarni, chair of Tropical Neurology subsection of IAN, was the moderator.

International Epilepsy Day – Feb 14

Epilepsy is a social stigma and the attitude of the community toward people with epilepsy is negative. Although epilepsy can be controlled by medicines in 75% of people, there is a treatment gap of 80% in those living in low middle income countries due to lack of knowledge and unavailability of medicines. Sangeeta Rawat, Chaturbhuj Rathod, Sita Jayalakshmi, and Dinesh Nayak participated in panel discussion. IAN Secretary U Meenakshisundaram moderated the session. Programs were also organized regionally by Gautam Ganguly, M A Aleem, K Ummer, and U Meenakshisundaram.

World Tuberculosis Day – March 24

Tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease killer and is endemic in 22 countries. The theme for the year is “invest in TB to save lives.” About one lakh cases of TB meningitis are diagnosed each year with mortality of about 30%. Sarosh Katrak, Ravindra Kumar Garg, Rohit Bhatia, and Thomas Lype interacted with moderators Rahul Kulkarni and Manish Modi to highlight different aspects of CNS TB.

Purple Day – March 26

Purple Day is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. Mamta Bhushan Singh, Ashalata, Amit Haldar, and Jayanti Mani participated in the event moderated by Sita Jayalkshmi. M A Aleem’s interview was published in the newspaper.

World Autism Awareness Day – April 2

Autism Spectrum Disorders are on the rise, and one out of 150 children may suffer from the same. A child who has difficulty in communication, difficulty in socialization, and peculiar traits like repetitive speech and behavior, usually should be suspected for autism. It is important to diagnose and intervene early. The condition is four times more common in boys as compared to girls. Environmental and genetic factors may be responsible.

There is no cure for autism but through a multidisciplinary team approach, patients can be helped to a great extent. Vrujesh Udani, Alka Subramanyam, Shefali Gulati, Koyeli Sengupta, Sonal Chitnis, Trupti Nikhalje were the panelists. Pediatric Neurology Subsection Convener K P Vinayan moderated the session. Priyadarshini Raut, parent of autistic child, narrated her experiences and triumph over the condition of her son who became an engineer and is working for a software company.

World Parkinson’s Day – April 11

This day symbolizes a time to raise awareness and advance research toward better therapies and a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD). There are about 9 million patients with Parkinson’s Disease worldwide. With increase in life expectancy, the prevalence of this neuro-degenerative disease is on the rise.

Sanjay Pande, Rajinder Dhamija, U Meenakshisundaram, and Sumit Singh shared their views and interacted with movement disorder subsection chair Achal Shrivastava and convener Ravi Yadav.

World Multiple Sclerosis Day – May 30

Every five minutes, someone receives the life-altering diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. More than 2.8 million people of all ages live with multiple sclerosis around the world. This neurological disease impacts every aspect of a person’s life, with effects ranging from cognitive impairment to significant physical disability. Early diagnosis and access to proven disease-modifying treatments are vital to improving patient quality of life and significantly halting disease progression. Dheeraj Khurana, Lekha Pandit, R. Suresh Kumar, and Kunal Bahrani were the panellists while Manish Mahajan moderated the session.

IAN is planning to celebrate World Brain Day on July 22 in grand way with 100 activities over the week. •

Chandrashekhar is the co-opted trustee of the WFN, U Meenaksshisundaram is IAN secretary, Gagandeep Singh, is president-elect of IAN, and Nirmal Surya is IAN president.

A View From the Top

Wolfgang Grisold

Wolfgang Grisold

This is the second issue of World Neurology this year, and I will take the opportunity to update you on the activities of the WFN. I will comment on the global situation, and then describe the internal developments of the WFN also in regard to future aspects, the persistence of COVID, the important advent of the “Intersectoral Global Action Plan” (IGAP) and World Brain Day 2022, “Brain Health for All.”

Global Situation

Due to ongoing wars, conflicts, and crises worldwide, I would like to emphasize the WFN‘s statements on armed conflict and wars and also encourage donation to professional organizations.

The global situation on wars, conflicts, refugees, displaced persons, and the effects on neurology and neurological patients is severe, and the WFN is deeply concerned. The WFN condemns any conflicts of war. It cannot be stressed enough that our role is to advocate for neurology, patients and caregivers who are endangered in these situations, and the reduction of access to care and treatment. Any armed conflict will also cause new casualties and victims, many of them with neurological sequelae and also subsequent mental conditions.

The role of the WFN as a scientific society, composed of 123 member societies, is building bridges between societies, members, medical disciplines, patients, and caregivers.

The WFN encourages the support to migrants, refugees, displaced and stateless persons, and victims of conflict worldwide. As a charity, we are primarily concerned with people with neurological disorders, their access to care, and the provision of essential drugs. We have indicated organizations that are experienced in global crises, and encourage donations for the purpose to support neurological patients.

Internal Developments

The year 2022 marked the time of a new administration. The strategy is to build on established structures and evolution as well as the integration of new developments.

The WFN is working on the improvement of communication with its member societies, further developing educational tools, such as the e-learning hub and educational days, among others. The experience with the previous WFN e-learning days has been successful, and the format and time of these events has been well accepted. The possibility of short-term educational interventions has been demonstrated in a recent SNO-WFN webinar on scientific advances on neuro-oncology, which was well-attended. We want to thank our partners including AFAN, EAN, AAN, IHS-GPAC, and SNO for their support. We believe these newly added educational concepts of virtual interventions will be important.

Basic administrative structure of the WFN in London. The office presently has four staff members who administer and coordinate the WFN affairs. External IT aspects and the management of Continuum are conducted by local and experienced collaborators (IT=information technology; PCO=professional conference organizer; PR=public relations)

The WFN has several committees, which act on behalf of the trustees. For the new administrative period, we have decided to adapt some of the committees and also add several subcommittees for specific purposes such as gender and diversity, young neurologists, teaching centers as well as a patient platform, among others. Based on the virtual WFN regional meeting in January-February 2022, we have selected chairs and filled the positions with suggestions from the regions. We have also increased the ratio of females from 10% to 40%, and we are committed to continue to adapt gender balance.

At this point, I also want to thank the outgoing chairs and members of the committees for their devotion and dedication to the WFN. Rotation of positions is necessary in such a large organization, and even if the terms end, we hope that all previous members will continue working with us supporting the WFN or in other future functions. The list of the new committees will be available on the website, and we will continue to introduce committees in World Neurology.

Other current tasks include preparation for the next Council of Delegates (COD) meeting this October 2022 in Amsterdam, where a new Secretary General and and one trustee will be elected. The WFN met with the AAN in a leadership meeting, and this is also planned with the EAN and with AOAN.

The preparation of the WCN 2023 is proceeding, and the WCN program committees have started their work. A preliminary program will appear soon. The preliminary work for WCN 2025 in Korea is also ongoing.

Define the Future

The WFN has reached a critical size and has globally a wide span of activities, which make a permanent and reliable organizing, planning and administrative structure necessary. This includes long-term planning and decisions, and availability with regard to resources both personal and financial.

The WFN, being a U.K. charity, guarantees a strict and well-assessed structure, which is taken care of by the trustees with the support of the WFN staff in London and is regularly audited each year. These administrative tasks, projects, and communicative tasks, are carried out by the office staff and externally with the help of Chiu, Helen Gallagher, our professional conference organizer (PCO), Freedman (our financial consultant), and Yakkety Yak, our public relations consultant, which make the WFN a complex structure.

Congress organization is done by a PCO, and the organization of WBD and Brain Health by a PR expert company.

We appreciate that the interest and trust in the WFN is high and increasing from the standpoint of cooperations. Any project taken up by the WFN needs administration and monitoring, and increasingly, project management tools will have to be used to define capacities to the extent that projects can be supported.

For education, the projects will be based on a needs assessment, which will be the basis of future development of all educational activities. We are also supportive of the concept of CME and Continuous Professional Development, which is lifelong learning for neurologists. There are several worldwide concepts such as the AAN’s Continuum, and the European EACCME model, which offer a widespread and detailed choice of CME educational methods and models. We are happy to say that the WFN congresses (World Congress of Neurology) are always accredited with up to 40 credits from EACCME , and we have always passed the strict and thorough definitions for these meetings. They are valid for AMA and the Canadian Royal College of Physicians.

Education in neurology is needed at all levels and is a continuous process. In addition to practical and scientific content, the importance of advocacy as well as leadership will have to be implemented in the strategy of our educational programs. We are committed to our concepts of department visits and training centers, and will report on these developments in the next issue.

COVID Is Continuing

I want to remind our readers that the COVID pandemic is not over yet, and travel and communication is still at risk. This also relates to the planning of the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva as well as to the COD meeting in Amsterdam.

The WFN has updated the COVID website and the Specialty Group on Tropical Neurology is providing monthly updates. Also Elsevier will provide a collection of COVID papers published in ENS (and in the future, JNS) and can be found on the COVID site: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/eneurologicalsci/special-issue/1006JKSX5HX.

The WFN also actively works with the WHO in several working groups on the neurological effects of COVID in both acute and late effects.

The pandemic had and still has catastrophic effects on patients and caregivers, not only as limited access to care and reduced capacities, but also medical and bureaucratic hurdles. It has to be assumed that the indirect damage to acute and chronic neurological patients is high and will take considerable time to return to normal.

As neurologists, we have to take care of the so-called soft facts such as communication, personal interaction, quality of life, and that the needs of patients and caregivers are addressed.

Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP)

Much energy and effort is being invested in the WHO’s International Global Action Plan (IGAP). I want to thank my predecessor William Carroll and Alla Guekht and Kimberly Karlshoej for their continuous efforts. This is a good example of a project that will have a worldwide impact, but is also a good example of worldwide cooperation.

IGAP is about to be accepted at the WHA in Geneva in May 2022. The WFN has been working with other societies such as the ILAE, the World Stroke Organization, Movement Disorders Society, and the International Headache Society on this development.

It is based on a long and fruitful cooperation with the WHO, which has several landmarks and previous books, including two editions of the Atlas and also the development of ICD 11. This IGAP will elevate the importance of neurology worldwide and will enable countries to use this WHO initiative for the establishment or development of neurology.

A brain health unit has been created by the WHO, which indicates the importance of brain health worldwide. (https://www.who.int/health-topics/brain-health#tab=tab_1).

Once the IGAP is accepted, the implementation of the IGAP will need the full attention for new projects with the WHO and with individual societies to implement this exciting program.

World Brain Day Topic

This year‘s World Brain Day (WBD) will be dedicated to “Brain Health for All.”

It is chaired and organized by our Public Awareness Committee by Tissa Wijeratne and David Dodick, with professional assistance from Yakkety Yak, which has taken care of the last WBDs. The committee consists of representatives from the WFN regions, and it is hoped that this WBD will underline the importance of brain health globally. We hope to align with the WHO in this important activity. The intent is not only to reach as many regions as possible, but also customize our WBD tools for individual use and we hope that many, if not all, WFN member societies will be able to celebrate with the WBD in their regions and use this topic to promote neurology at all levels. The topic of this year’s WBD also aligns with the upcoming IGAP, which will be approved by the WHA in May.

The view of the WFN is that brain health has a wide span from intrauterine life toward childhood, adulthood, and into aging in regard to neurological function, dysfunction, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

The selection of the topic “Brain Health for All” is based on the WFN’s 2021 brain health campaign (https://wfneurology.org/brain-health-initiative) and the cooperation with the WHO. Also regional societies including the EAN are committed to brain health, such as the European Brain Health Summit meeting in May 2022 (https://www.ean.org/ean/advocacy/brain-health). There will also be a brain health session at the EAN congress in Vienna.

This was a short update on the current proceedings of the WFN, including several cooperations and developments. Please follow us on the website and social media.

If you have comments or questions, please contact us at info@wfneurology.org. •

From the editors

Steven L. Lewis, MD, Walter Struhal, MD

We’d like to welcome all readers to the March-April 2022 issue of World Neurology.

The issue begins with the obituary of Dr. Jun Kimura (1935-2022), former WFN president and renowned electrodiagnostic neurologist, written by his colleague and former mentee, Ryuji Kaji.

In the President’s Column, WFN President Dr. Wolfgang Grisold discusses a number of items, including implications of the current global situation, internal developments and plans at the WFN, an update on COVID with regard to the WFN, the International Global Action Plan (IGAP) of the WHO, and World Brain Day 2022, devoted to Brain Health for All.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Meshram announces the important news that the Padma Shri Award, the highest civilian honor of India and conferred by the president of India in New Delhi, has been awarded to Dr. Bhimsen Singhal.

Dr. Meshram also summarizes Dr. Singhal’s remarkable accomplishments.

Drs. Marina Alpaidze, Tsotne Samadashvili, and Alex Razumovsky discuss the successful teaching course sponsored by the Neurosonology Specialty Group of the WFN held in Tbilisi, Georgia, in late 2021, which discussed the use of transcranial Doppler ultrasonography as an essential daily modality in the critical-care setting.

In this issue’s History Column, Dr. Peter Koehler discusses the early endeavors to build a CT scan, with particular reference to the Ukraine pioneers who were integral in this development.

This issue also includes a number of important announcements, including World Brain Day 2022 devoted to Brain Health for All, an announcement for the WFN’s call for applications for 2022 Grants, and an announcement of the upcoming 17th International Congress of Neuromuscular Disease, which will take place in Brussels in early July 2022.

This issue also updates us about a recent important position statement from the American Epilepsy Society about the serious risks associated with use of valproate by women of childbearing potential.

Finally, this issue also includes an obituary of Dr. Paul Kleihues, a world-renowned neuropathologist in the field of brain tumor research who was integral in the WHO classification of human tumors.

We thank all readers for their interest in World Neurology and invite you to submit ideas for contributions. Please send your ideas to stevenlewi@gmail.com. •

 

 

Neurosonology Specialty Group WFN Teaching Course

Meeting discussed use of transcranial Doppler ultrasonography as an essential daily modality in the critical-care setting.

By Marina Alpaidze, MD, PhD, Tsotne Samadashvili, MD, PhD, and Alex Razumovsky. PhD, FAHA, NVS

Conference room at Caucasus Medical Center.

The Neurosonology Specialty Group of the WFN is dedicated to the promotion of science and research as well of education and training in the field of ultrasonic techniques and its clinical utilization. Therefore, international cooperation and the dissemination of scientific information within the field of neurosonology is part of the WFN Neurosonology Specialty Group activities.

The WFN Neurosonology Specialty Group course considering clinical applications of transcranial Doppler (TCD) utilization in neurocritical care and neurosurgery was held Nov. 5, 2021, at the Caucasus Medical Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia. The meeting was conducted under the auspices of the NSG WFN, Georgian School of Anesthesia and Intensive Therapy, and Georgian Chapter of NSG WFN, and the Georgian Society of Cerebral Hemodynamics and Neurosonology.

Razumovsky (top left), L.Tsikarishvili. (bottom left), T. Samadashvili (top right), M. Alpaidze (bottom right).

Among the faculty were Drs. T. Samadashvili, MD, PhD, president of the Georgian School of Anesthesia and Intensive Therapy (NGO) and chair of the anesthesiology department at Caucasus Medical Centre; Lado Tsikarishvili, MD, PhD, chair of the neurosurgery department at Caucasus Medical Centre; M. Alpaidze, MD, PhD, professor in the department of radiology at the Tbilisi State Medical University; and Alexander Razumovsky, PhD, FAHA, NVS, secretary of the WFN Neurosonology Specialty Group.

(From left to the right) L. Tsikarishvili (neurosurgeon), T. Samadashvili (anesthesiologist), M. Alpaidze (radiologist), and A. Razumovsky (neurophysiologist).

This course was designed for different medical specialists, including neurologists, neurocritical care physicians, and neurosurgeons.  Presentations were related to the clinical yield of TCD for neurocritical care applications, specifically for patients after subarachnoid hemorrhage and traumatic brain injury. Different aspects of neurosurgical, critical care, and neurosonology were discussed in detail. Among them were management strategies of cerebral vasospasm after SAH and TBI. Some new trends in the clinical utilization of neurosonology applications were debated. Due to the COVID-19 regulations in Georgia, the meeting offered simultaneous live broadcast for a wide-ranging audience. •

Marina Alpaidze, MD, PhD, is professor in the radiology department at Tbilisi State Medical University. Tsotne Samadashvili, MD, PhD, is chair of the anesthesiology department at Caucasus Medical Center. Alex Razumovsky. PhD, FAHA, NVS, is secretary of the Neurosonology Specialty Group of the WFN.

 

 

2022 WFN Grants-In-Aid

The WFN mission is to foster quality neurology and brain health worldwide, and this year, the WFN is offering up to six grants of up to $25,000 with a maximum spend of $100,000.

Research projects that will be considered for funding include:

  • Education such as research on neurological education and patient education (Please note that grants related to the funding or creation of neurological residency or fellowship training programs will not be awarded.)Improvement of neurological services
  • Regional collaboration
  • Disease-based projects (Please note that pure laboratory or “bench research” projects are out of the scope of this grant program.)

2022 grant applications that are likely not to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be preferred.

We look forward to reviewing applications for the 2022 WFN grant program.

Eligibility

Neurologists less than 10 years from graduating in neurology from WFN Member Societies.

Preference will be given to applicants residing in areas of World Bank low/lower-middle-income countries.

Aim

The WFN seeks to fund low-cost, high-impact education and outcome research projects able to be implemented locally (at source). International cooperation is encouraged.

(Please note projects to provide routine health care and ongoing research proposals are not eligible).

Criteria

Projects should be in education, improvement of services (regional or national), or scientific and require the collection of data to test a hypothesis.

Each grant will have to satisfy its terms of the agreement. (See below.)

In the application, please address the following points:

  • Relevance: How does the project directly address the mission of the WFN?
  • Value: What is the return on invested effort in funds and/or time?
  • Viability: Is this a time-limited project with a measurable outcome or is it an initiative that will grow and support the development of further research or initiatives?
  • Synergy: Within the WFN and among committees, initiatives, and task forces, with outside partners, governmental and non-governmental organisations, the WHO, fundraising agencies etc.
  • Please suggest possible partners. For example, a project on stroke would probably be interesting for the WSO, for epilepsy possibly with the ILAE, etc. (See co-sponsored grants.)
  • Evaluation: How will the outcome be measured?
  • Management: Good governance, transparent monitoring, and clear interim and financial reports are required.

Co-Sponsored Grants

The WFN encourages co-sponsored grants. These grants will be co-sponsored by the WFN and a partner organization. The partner organization can be a scientific society (e.g. ILAE, MDS, etc.), a regional society (EAN, AOAN etc.), or a national society. The partner organization will sign a sponsorship agreement with the WFN to define the shared costs and the role of the individual partners in such projects.

Project responsibility and reporting will be shared by the WFN and the partner organization.

Deadlines

  • Application due by July 1, 2022
  • Applicants will be notified of successful funding in due course after the closing date.
  • Once applicants are informed of the decision, funding will begin as soon as it can be arranged thereafter.
  • Applications are to be submitted exclusively using the online WFN grant application form and should include the following:

Application Checklist

  • The name of the lead applicant with curriculum vitae and any sponsoring group
  • Title of the project
  • Description of the project
  • Direct relevance of the project to the mission of the WFN
  • Viability of the project
  • Timeline of the project, dates, and duration
  • Detailed budget in U.S. dollars
  • Name of bank to enable electronic funds transfer and confirmation of the same by the specified bank
  • Approval by a local or institutional ethics committee

All funding must be received through an academic institution account.

Please visit the WFN website for additional information. •

The WFN: Past and Future

Wolfgang Grisold

This is my first column as the WFN president in World Neurology but not my first article in our newsletter, edited by Steven Lewis. World Neurology has become an important source of information for members and serves to communicate information on the WFN.

Before I comment on the present state of the WFN, and the vision for this year and the following years, I want to thank the outgoing president, William Carroll, and all trustees having served in the previous administration, for their huge efforts and devotion to the WFN.

I also want to thank all committees, Specialty Groups, cooperating societies, and the WFN office as well as the professional conference organizer (PCO) (Kenes) who mastered the difficult transition from classic congress to virtual congresses.

Ryuji Kaji, the outgoing vice president, was chair of this successful transition into a virtual congress. The abilities of the PCO also must be commended.

The WFN is a U.K. charity with 123 member societies. The work is supported by the London office, a few external coworkers, and a lean structure.

The WFN is by constitution and voting system in a constant flux in leadership. This year, one new trustee position and a new secretary general will be at disposition at the next Congress of Delegates (COD) meeting and adds to the dynamic effects of change.

The WFN has a robust and detailed structure, which serves as the basis for further improvement and development. This transition of administration will be smooth, and the main targets and goals will be adapted and improved.

In the first Trustee meeting, held Jan. 13, 2022, Prof. Guy Rouleau (Canada) was welcomed into the WFN board of trustees as the new vice president. Prof. Rouleau is from Montreal, Canada, was the delegate of Canada to the WFN, has participated in the WFN department visit program, and is the Congress president for the World Congress of Neurology (WCN) 2023 in Montreal.

The trustees decided on the composition of the WFN leadership until the next COD meeting 2022. The position of the secretary general will be taken by Steven Lewis (U.S.), who has been a long-time supporter within the leadership. We decided to use the opportunity and allow more regional representation, which will include Prof. Chandrashekhar Meshram (India), Prof. Marco Medina (Honduras), and Prof. Riadh Gouider (Tunisia) from the Asian, Latin American, African, and the Pan-Arab regions, respectively.

This is a unique opportunity to have representatives of the regions on the board, and gives the trustees the flexibility to have this option until the next COD meeting, where the election of one trustee and secretary general will take place, and the further composition of the coopted trustees can be adjusted again, within the available positions.

Due to COVID-19 and travel conditions, a traditional first face-to-face meeting with the trustees and the regions was not possible this year. COVID hampers activities on the one hand, and on the other, shows what creative potential this provides to communication, teaching, and virtual congresses. This will be overcome by a 2-day virtual conference, which will give each region and the trustees the possibilities to learn more on the needs of neurology worldwide.

At this time, most terms of office for the committees come to an end, and much effort will be exercised to select the most interested and capable persons as well as to selecting regions and gender.

For the upcoming year, there is still uncertainty on the possibility of live meetings, but it is planned that the WFN leadership will meet with the leadership of the AAN and the EAN this year, at this year’s conferences. Hopefully, it will be possible to also attend the Indian Academy of Neurology and the Asian Oceanian Congress of Neurology meetings, and the WFN will also attend other regional meetings. The annual COD meeting will be this fall, although the site has not yet been determined.

WCN

One important task of the WFN is the organization of biennial congresses, rotating through the regions. After the successful congress with SIN 2021, which was virtual, the next congress is planned for 2023 in Montreal hosted by the Canadian society, and in 2025 in Seoul, Korea.

For both meetings the preparations at different levels are ongoing, and the first congress announcements and calls for Montreal will be appearing soon.

The WCN is an important part of the WFN activities and provides attractive programs with plenary sessions showcasing new and current developments, scientific sessions aimed at specific topics, a large number of abstract presentations, and general education. The WCN aims at high scientific quality and universal approach for many regions as well as communicative aspects between participants and members.

We will aim to have a patient day and will support the activities of young neurologists. For countries in need, adapted fees will be in place according to the income status, and congress bursaries will be available. As lessons learned from the pandemic, we will also provide hybrid activities featuring important topics.

World Brain Day

The WFN has created the World Brain Day (WBD), which has become an important and powerful instrument to facilitate topics and neurological issues globally. This year’s topic will be Brain Health for All, which will put us in contact with many regional societies, as well as reflects the importance of the topic that was started by the WFN last year on the initiative of our Past-President William Carroll. At this stage, the content was composed of videos and webinars that were well received and also stimulated the interest in this topic.

This year, we will work closely with the regions and will enhance our efforts to encourage local and regional events. Visit the WFN website for further developments and try to implement brain health initiatives in your region. As in previous years, we will provide tools, such as posters, press statements, and other useful support that can be adapted and used locally to celebrate WBD.

WHO

From the ongoing activities of brain health and WBD, the close cooperation with the WHO will continue to globally raise the awareness for neurology and provide more access for those in need. The WFN has contributed jointly with the Global Neurology Alliance (GNA) to develop comments and suggestions for the Intersectorial Global Action Plan (IGAP), and the WFN considers this an important step for the global development of neurology.

Traditionally, the WFN has been in close contact with the WHO, such as the involvement in the ICD, the joint publication of the Atlas (Editions 1 and 2) and historically a “white book” (Country Resources for Neurological Disorders) on neurological resources, which dates back to 2006 and needs a relaunch.

The WFN also collaborates in WHO activities related to the COVID pandemic and is engaged in several workforces.

It will be important for the regional societies to engage in local WHO activities as this has been done previously by some regions. This will deal with specific topics and can also increase awareness and possibly impact.

Closely linked with this global activity is the Needs Registry. Looking at needs, the outgoing president, Prof. Carroll, on behalf of the WFN, will finalize a Needs Registry, which is based on a membership survey, and will give more details on the worldwide needs. This important paper will be published on behalf of the WFN and will be of help to better understand neurologic needs and access worldwide.

Education

Education is one of the core missions of the WFN. Education at all levels will be one of our main tasks.

We have a spectrum of educational activities, ranging from the Junior Traveling Fellowships and congress bursaries, to WFN Teaching Centers and Department Visits. Also, educational sessions are part of the WCN. We have an educational day in Africa, a joint headache educational day with the International Headache Society and the Global Patient Advocacy Coalition

(GPAC) and the annual Regional Teaching Course in Africa with the EAN. These activities will be continued and updated. (For details, visit the WFN website). The educational days in Africa have become a good template to reach a large audience, and these educational days can be expanded to other regions. The education day on headache with IHS/GPAC will be continued this year.

We will increase our activities in e-learning, and the e-learning hub on the WFN website, which was introduced last year, and will be expanded. We look forward to seeing how this important instrument will contribute to global educational activities.

We are also determined to look at new educational activities, such as mentorship, advocacy, and leadership. Format hybrid meetings and asynchronous meetings will be considered. New models, such as apps, mini or micro learning, as well as the concept of M (mobile) learning will be evaluated for possible use.

Core Curriculum

The definition of neurology as a field is difficult. Even more difficult to define is the content of a core curriculum. This is due to the large variation of the resources of our membership, which ranges from highest standards toward members with hardly any neurological workforce. Discussions within the WFN on a possible core curriculum have been ongoing for years. Interviews with several members have shown that a basic core curriculum will be important for many members societies to develop neurology and neurological facilities.

For the development of future programs, we will also receive input from the specialty groups and the Global Neurology Alliance, which is composed of world societies, specialist societies, the regions, and specialty groups.

In previous years, this cooperation has been effective and adds to the impact of programs. A good example is the Regional Teaching Course in Africa, which is chaired by the EAN and where the AAN, the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), and the WFN regularly participate. We are grateful to the educational activities of the specialty groups. As an example, at this year’s International Congress of Neuromuscular Disease (https://icnmd.org), a joint WFN-ICNMD lecturer will illustrate the topic of neuromuscular disease in lower middle-income countries.

The content of education is not limited to knowledge and science. We also need to teach advocacy and leadership for neurologists. We must find ways to help our young and trained neurologists find attractive positions and work in and for the WFN.

Our vision is that successful participants of our leadership seminars will be able to participate in the work of committees and leadership and be able to learn and see the organizational needs and requirements.

The WFN has a grant award program with yearly funding. This will be continued and will be mainly directed toward educational activities in both research and practical application.

Publications

The WFN has three publications: the Journal of the Neurological Sciences (John England, Editor), eNS (Walter Struhal, Editor) and World Neurology (Steven Lewis, Editor). These publications help to promote neurology worldwide and are an important source of information and education. We have now established a platform for recommendations from the editors, and hope to be able to synchronize on important topics in the future

Social media is helping to promote new articles and important developments and has become an important part of our communication. The content and targets will need to expand to a larger group, including lay persons, patients, and health care providers.

Internal Work

Based on the WFN structure, we need to improve communication and outreach with regions and member societies. The detailed work with the members societies from last year has increased our understanding and identified some blind spots, which need to be removed.

Internally, the WFN needs to be prepared for the future. In addition to gender, young neurologists, and patients, we will make sure the future transitions of administrations will be smooth and already incorporate the president-elect, which will need a change of the procedures.

Importantly, we will need to consider gender and diversity, the need of young neurologists, and install a platform for patient organizations into the WFN. This will need preparatory work and will require important input from our committees, which will be asked to provide ideas and suggestions.

This work needs strong administrative support from the trustees and organizationally from the office team, which is an important part of our strategy.

In Summary

Communication, increasing the impact of the WFN, and internal adaptations will be the task for the WFN in the next period, and I will use this platform to update and inform on the recent developments.

Despite our own personal regional background and regional interests, we have to strive for a cosmopolitan approach, which by etymology would be best described as “citizens of the world” and describes the spirit of the WFN’s approach.

I look forward serving as the WFN president and building on our robust structure to consolidate and improve the present structures and to encourage and work on future projects. •

 

Email me with your ideas, suggestions and comments: wolfgang.grisold@wfneurology.org

Letter from the editors

Welcome to the January-February 2022 issue of World Neurology.

Steven L. Lewis, MD, Walter Struhal, MD

The issue begins with the President’s Column, where new WFN President Wolfgang Grisold discusses the past, present, and future of the WFN as well as many activities and goals currently planned under his presidency. This report is also followed by an announcement and photos of all of the new WFN trustees.

Dr. Arina Tamborska announces an ongoing survey of neurologic complications of COVID-19 from the University of Liverpool with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation of Neurology (WFN).

In this issue’s column about the WFN Committees and Specialty Groups, edited by WFN President Wolfgang Grisold, the activities of the WFN Education Committee and the WFN Environmental Neurology Specialty Group are highlighted. This issue also includes a call for a new chair for the WFN Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Specialty Group.

In the History Column, Dr. Peter Koehler discusses the history of insulin coma therapy (ICT) and its historical role as a treatment for neuropsychiatric disease and the observations of the neurological signs induced by this procedure.

Dr. Gaminit Pathirana, president of the Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists (ASN), reports on the history and activities of the ASN, which includes its recent and successful meeting.

In the WFN Training Center report, Dr. Ndayisenga Arlène provides a wonderful report of her WFN-sponsored full neurology training at the WFN Training Center at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal, where she is the first fully trained neurologist to graduate as a WFN-sponsored trainee from this center. She has now successfully returned to Rwanda as the fifth neurologist in that country.

Dr. Tissa Wijeratne provides a brief history of World Brain Day and the success of World Brain Day 2021 devoted to multiple sclerosis. The theme for this year’s World Brain Day 2022 is also announced in this issue and is devoted to Brain Health for All.

As always, we would like to thank all readers for their interest in World Neurology and invite ideas for contributions to be sent to Dr. Lewis or Dr. Struhal •