New neurology studies a 'wakeup call' for global health

November 21, 2018

SEATTLE - Neurology experts from around the world will convene November 27 in Auckland, New Zealand, for a conference on "brain health," examining what one calls "the greatest challenge of societies in the 21st century." Among the neurological disorders to be discussed at the Brain Summit are stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and migraine and other headaches.

The topics are covered in a new series of 11 papers on neurological disorders in The Lancet Neurology. As part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), the studies assess death and disability from 15 neurological disorders between 1990 and 2016 in 195 countries and territories by age and by sex. It is the most extensive study ever conducted on neurological disorders.

"As populations continue to age worldwide, neurological disorders will place even more pressure on health care services in the near future," said Dr. Theo Vos, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and a senior author on all of the studies. "Yet current intervention strategies for reducing non-communicable neurological disorders have low effectiveness or are not sufficiently deployed, as is the case with many prevention approaches for stroke. More research is needed and urgently to better understand how to address many of these disorders."

According to Dr. Elena Becker-Barroso, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Neurology, "Brain health is the greatest challenge of societies in the 21st century. These articles should be a wakeup call for health care systems and research funding agencies, as the data show that neurology and neurosciences must be at the top of their agendas."

Study authors found one in four people worldwide suffered from headaches in 2016, with 1.89 billion people estimated to have experienced a tension-type headache, and 1.04 billion people a migraine.

They also found Parkinson's disease is the fastest growing of all neurological disorders. The number of individuals with Parkinson's disease has more than doubled since 1990, increasing from 2.5 million that year to 6.1 million in 2016.

"These findings are integral to making the Global Burden of Disease study more accessible to clinicians," said Vos. "Medical personnel who care for those with neurological diseases have long wanted a comprehensive roadmap to improve their understanding of neurological disease burden. This series of articles is a helpful first step."

The Global Burden of Disease Brain Summit is a collaboration between Auckland University of Technology (AUT), The Lancet Neurology journal, and the Global Burden of Disease study, which is coordinated by IHME.

"We need worldwide cooperation in the research, treatment and prevention of neurological disorders, which is grossly underfunded," said Professor Valery Feigin, Director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at AUT and a senior author on the studies. "Neurological care within the public health system needs to be strengthened, and effective primary prevention is essential to help curb this global health crisis."

The studies and additional information are available at

Additional key findings include:

Headache disorders
Motor neuron diseasesMeningitisParkinson's diseaseDEATH RATES (AGE-STANDARDIZED, BOTH SEXES), 2016

Motor neuron diseases

Highest rates
  1. New Zealand: 2.2 deaths per 100,000
  2. Australia: 2.1
  3. United Kingdom: 2.1
  4. Ireland: 2.0
  5. Iceland: 1.8
  6. Finland: 1.8
  7. Netherlands: 1.8
  8. Canada: 1.8
  9. Sweden: 1.8
  10. Andorra: 1.7

Lowest rates:
  1. South Sudan: 0.045 deaths per 100,000
  2. Rwanda: 0.052
  3. Madagascar: 0.057
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 0.058
  5. Mozambique: 0.059
  6. Somalia: 0.061
  7. Ethiopia: 0.061
  8. Uganda: 0.061
  9. Burundi: 0.064
  10. Kenya: 0.065

Parkinson's disease

Highest rates
  1. Canada: 6.9 deaths per 100,000
  2. Argentina: 5.4
  3. Greenland: 5.4
  4. United States: 5.1
  5. Chile: 4.9
  6. Uruguay: 4.9
  7. Iran: 4.7
  8. Slovenia: 4.6
  9. Slovakia: 4.6
  10. Czech Republic: 4.6

Lowest rates:
  1. Central African Republic: 1.6 deaths per 100,000
  2. South Sudan: 1.7
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 1.8
  4. Madagascar: 1.8
  5. Niger: 1.8
  6. Lesotho: 1.9
  7. Papua New Guinea: 1.9
  8. Burundi: 1.9
  9. Chad: 1.9
  10. Somalia: 1.9


Highest rates
  1. Somalia: 33.8 deaths per 100,000
  2. Niger: 33.3
  3. Guinea-Bissau: 33.2
  4. South Sudan: 32.5
  5. Zambia: 31.7
  6. Sierra Leone: 31.0
  7. Burkina Faso: 30.9
  8. Chad: 30.0
  9. Mali: 28.3
  10. Guinea: 28.1

Lowest rates:
  1. Singapore: 0.16 deaths per 100,000
  2. Luxembourg: 0.19
  3. Switzerland: 0.20
  4. Japan: 0.20
  5. Australia: 0.20
  6. Sweden: 0.22
  7. Finland: 0.22
  8. Italy: 0.22
  9. Slovenia: 0.23
  10. Germany: 0.24



Highest rates
  1. Italy: 20,678 prevalent cases per 100,000
  2. Nepal: 20,417
  3. Austria: 19,787
  4. Netherlands: 19,719
  5. Luxembourg: 19,576
  6. Spain: 19,257
  7. Portugal: 18,675
  8. Cyprus: 18,642
  9. Israel: 18,493
  10. Ireland: 18,432

Lowest rates:
  1. China: 8,556 prevalent cases per 100,000
  2. North Korea: 9,557
  3. Taiwan: 9,788
  4. Ethiopia: 10,256
  5. Tanzania: 10,347
  6. Northern Mariana Islands: 10,578
  7. Guam: 10,671
  8. Kenya: 10,710
  9. Comoros: 10,727
  10. Djibouti: 10,768

Tension-type headache

Highest rates
  1. Brazil: 35,208 prevalent cases per 100,000
  2. Afghanistan: 34,213
  3. Paraguay: 33,290
  4. Haiti: 32,568
  5. Yemen: 32,528
  6. Palestine: 32,495
  7. Iraq, 32,295
  8. Turkey: 32,075
  9. Sudan: 31,818
  10. Nepal: 30,891

Lowest rates
  1. Taiwan: 15,584 prevalent cases per 100,000
  2. China: 17,100
  3. North Korea: 18,550
  4. Ethiopia: 19,666
  5. United States: 19,859
  6. Guam: 20,324
  7. Northern Mariana Islands: 20,469
  8. France: 20,659
  9. Switzerland: 20,980
  10. Fiji: 21,090
The four neurology disorder studies published to date in The Lancet include: Media contacts:

IHME: Kelly Bienhoff, +1-206-897-2884 (office); +1-913-302-3817 (mobile);

IHME: Dean Owen, +1-206-897-2858 (office); +1-206-434-5630 (mobile);

About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world's most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to improve population health.

About the Global Burden of Disease study

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study is the largest and most comprehensive effort to quantify health loss across places and over time. It draws on the work of more than 3,600 collaborators from 145 countries and territories. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation coordinates the study. The GBD 2016 study was published in October 2017 and covers 333 diseases and injuries, and 84 risk factors.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

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