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Letter to Minister Fassmann

I have been written an open letter to Mr. Heinz Faßmann, the Austrian Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research who will chair the forthcoming Competitiveness Council.

Dear Mr. Faßmann,

I am writing to you today as I would like to draw your attention to an issue that is extremely urgent and relevant for patients diagnosed with brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Dystonia, Restless Legs Syndrome, Epilepsy, Dementia and many more.

As a European citizen living with Parkinson’s disease I am closely following developments that concern research funding. As such, I am aware that EU decision-makers are currently discussing the design of the next Framework Programme, entitled Horizon Europe, that will support research across the EU. Furthermore, I also learned that Horizon Europe will fund various R&I Missions that aim to address a number of pressing societal challenges. 

To my dismay, I recently learned that the European Commission circulated proposed ideas on potential Missions, as a starting point for their development, amongst the national Science Ministries prior to the informal meeting of EU Research Ministers that was held on 15th October. When reading these, I could not find any further mentioning of the brain or the impact of brain disorders on European society. 

I am profoundly disappointed and even shocked that the suggested examples of Missions do not address brain diseases since we, as patients, are well aware of the immense burden and human suffering caused by brain disorders. What is more, mental and neurological conditions could severely affect the sustainability of healthcare systems in Europe. One in three European citizens are likely to be affected by a brain disorder, the cost of which is estimated at €800 billion annually. It is therefore paramount that the EU Ministers that will meet on 29th-30th November take robust measures to effectively address this threat. 

Against the above, I strongly urge you to make a call for adopting a Brain Mission and taking the wellbeing of our society into account during the upcoming negotiations on Horizon Europe. This would make a real difference to EU citizens and will provide me and other patients living with mental or neurological diseases with hope for cures and improved treatments. 

With kind regards,

Elisabeth Ildal, PwP

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