Brussels, Apr 2005
The European Brain Council (EBC) is recommending a boost in research efforts following the publication of a report stating that 1 million Europeans suffer from brain disorders, and that the financial cost of this amounted to 386 billion euro in 2004.
The report, entitled Cost of Disorders of the Brain in Europe, focuses on the cost of the twelve most prevalent brain disorders, which include both psychiatric and somatic diseases. The costs cited involve those for healthcare, private and public expenses outside of the medical sector (for example nursing home costs), and indirect costs (restriction of work capability, absenteeism and early retirement).
The 386 billion euro that brain diseases cost Europe is equal to 829 euro per European inhabitant, states the report. Yet despite these figures, brain research has received relatively little funding in the past, both at national and at EU level. For example, brain research received only eight per cent of the life science budget during the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), which ran from 1998 until 2002.
This is however set to change in FP7. 'I am pleased to see that research on the brain and related diseases is specifically included in the Commission's proposed [FP7] and hope that this will help the discover of new knowledge and treatments,' said UK MEP John Bowis, who backed the EBC report. 'The return on investment could be huge - economically as well as in terms of improved quality of life for patients,' he said.
The EBC report 'clearly indicates the scale of the challenge we are facing, both in respect to individual suffering and to the socio-economic costs caused by brain diseases,' said EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. 'I am optimistic that Europe, with a major and organised effort, has the potential to cope with the challenge which brain diseases impose on the individual as well as on society,' he added.
In addition to increasing brain research funding, the EBC is also recommending improved healthcare efforts and further teaching of brain-related subjects at medical schools and as part of life science education.
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