Global Neuroscience and Social Change: A model for Healthcare Cooperation

Chair VIU-NED on Global Neuroscience and Social Change (Report)

Neuroscience is revolutionizing medicine today. Over the past decade, billions have been spent to better understand how the human brain works and why it fails when it gets sick. This research is not only expanding our knowledge, but has the potential to transform the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Yet millions of people around the world are unable to benefit from these advances. There are profound inequalities in the resources that countries can devote to addressing these diseases. Moreover, not all healthcare systems are prepared to address the neurological problems of their populations, especially those living in low-income countries.

The good news is that we know how to transform these conditions. In most cases, it is not a problem of knowledge but of will, capacity and resources. This report highlights the role of global neuroscience in promoting social change in the field of health. In line with similar efforts in global health, specialists, organizations, and donors are working to extend the opportunities provided by neuroscience to the most disadvantaged populations. Everyone should benefit from these opportunities, regardless of where they live.

In this paper we present a model for healthcare cooperation that has improved a low-resource healthcare system based on the development of neurosurgery. This model was conceived by the Neurosurgery, Education and Development (NED) foundation and has guided interventions in the field of medical infrastructure, clinical care, and the education of health personnel in the Zanzibar archipelago (Tanzania). These interventions have focused on Equipping, Treating, and Educating (ETE) at the same time and have involved a variety of specialists from neurosurgeons to neuropsychologists, anesthesiologists, and neurorehabilitation specialists.

This model can be relevant to any organization interested in health development and social change, beyond the development of any specific medical specialty. We have the opportunity to respond to needs that have been historically neglected. And we now have the experience and knowledge to improve the health of millions of people. We are convinced that if more people and organizations work together, we can achieve this goal sooner.

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