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On 25 January 2024, following the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Brain Council, in partnership with Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Brain Capital Alliance hosted a full day event, Brain Health for Society: Insights from Brain Capital, in Basel, Switzerland.

Brain disorders – encompassing neurological diseases and disorders and mental illnesses – are widespread, disabling and difficult to treat. These include a range of conditions: epilepsy, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, depression, stroke, Schizophrenia, headache, anxiety disorders, chronic pain and rarer brain disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dystonia and ataxia. In fact, it is estimated that up to one billion people worldwide live with a neurological condition and 970 million people around the world were living with a mental health disorder as of 2019, with anxiety and depressive disorders the most common.

These numbers are alarming without considering that they pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic, which we now know led to higher rates of mental health conditions as well as COVID-19-triggered neurological complications. These conditions represent a high individual, social and economic burden and contribute to the global disease burden and disability.

This conference showcased the importance and urgency of prioritising brain health, particularly by presenting the novel concept of ‘Brain Capital’, which puts a premium on cognitive skills and abilities in accomplishing socio-economic objectives. Building Brain Capital is fundamental for meeting modern societal challenges, driving innovation and achieving economic security. Policies and investments to boost brain power can increase productivity, stimulate greater creativity and economic dynamism, afford social cohesion, and create a more resilient, adaptable, and sustainability-engaged populace. This discussion is incredibly timely, particularly as we entered 2024, when many major elections are taking place e.g., European elections, the Presidency of the United States of America, for the UK Prime Ministership, etc. and we are witnessing times of major political, economic, and overall societal shifts and instability. Coordinating brain health and brain capital advances across the Atlantic and globally is vital.

Full Day Replay | Part 1

Full Day Replay | Part 2

Partners

With thanks to Roche for supporting this event.

Programme