Experts in neuroscience and other disciplines participated in the 9th edition of the Science Summit, which takes place between September 12 and 29, in the context of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, in New York. In the second row, Facundo Manes, neuroscientist and former candidate for President of the Nation, spoke
The mental health pandemic persists in the world with an intensity that gives no respite. More than three years after the start of the global health emergency due to COVID-19, experts in psychology and psychiatry affirm that it is still on the rise.
Before 2020, it was estimated that 1 in 6 working-age adults suffered from a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Then, the global health crisis caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus increased the number of people with symptoms of depression by more than 25%, according to the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO, in its capacity as an international organization, published a document entitled “World mental health report: Transforming mental health for all”, on June 16, 2022, highlighted the vital importance of this aspect of health and pointed out the contrast that exists between the needs and the insufficient or inadequate responses by countries.
Global estimates – always according to the WHO – indicate that people receiving care for specific mental health conditions remained below 50%, with a global average of 40% of patients with depression and 29% with psychosis. Then, as mentioned, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%.
The WHO Mental Health Action Plan set a goal for 2020 for 80% of the member states of the multinational entity to have a mental health plan adjusted to “international and regional human rights instruments.” However, only 51% of countries achieved the goal.
“Public policies that promote the care and development of mental capital and well-being throughout life have a profound impact on both an individual and collective level,” said Manes.
In tune with this very worrying situation, the experts who participated in the 9th edition of the Science Summit, which takes place from September 12 to 29, in the context of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, spoke out. , In New York. This forum put science and the brain as pillars for future development, both individual and collective. The Argentine neuroscientist Facundo Manes participated in the conclave, who spoke with Infobae from the US.
1- Brain and mental health was the leitmotiv of the meeting, as it is the basis, not only of a good quality of life for citizens, but also of the development of a Nation. For this reason, the experts proposed that States must invest in the promotion and protection of this aspect of health to enhance the capabilities necessary for the world of the 21st century, which are based on ideas and knowledge. In this framework, contemplating, within public policies, the care and development of mental capital, understood as the cognitive, emotional and social resources of an individual, have a significant impact on a personal and collective level.
2- Another focus of the 9th edition of the Science Summit, organized by the ISC Science Intelligence in Science, together with other partners, is the role and contribution of science in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ) of the United Nations. Participants seek to generate and promote scientific collaborations that support Agenda 2030 and Local 2030, in addition to preparing contributions for the United Nations Future Summit to be held at UNGA79, in 2024.
It should be noted here that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action plan for people, planet and prosperity that was approved by the Member States of the United Nations in September 2015. This roadmap established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 169 targets that countries must meet by the year 2030. Meanwhile, the Local Agenda 2030 is a specific network of coordination and collaboration between cities, regions and communities to support the local implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The neuroscientist Facundo Manes was part of the Summit, among others, along with Dr. Walter Koroshetz, Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the United States, belonging to the National Institutes of Health (NIH, for its acronym in English).
3- Technology and advances in Artificial Intelligence were also discussed, given the need to prepare societies for technological change and advances in artificial intelligence. It was highlighted that science is the way to overcome difficulties and barriers, and that governments have the opportunity to promote investment in cognitive, social and emotional resources.
4- On the other hand, emphasis was placed on global scientific collaboration, on policies, regulations and financial environments that support global scientific collaborations, especially in the brain field. The importance of current partnerships and the potential for global collaboration in neuroscience and treatment of brain disorders was highlighted.
5- Another important aspect of this meeting is the personal exchange of knowledge and collaboration between experts. This event allows experts from different parts of the world to share best practices, exchange work in progress and explore ways of enhanced collaboration.
Manes told Infobae: “The governments of the countries in the region have the opportunity to carry out policies that promote investment in the cognitive, social and emotional resources of their communities that allow for both economic and social prosperity.”
The Argentine neuroscientist Facundo Manes took part in this summit, in his capacity as both founder of the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO), – a scientific institution of global relevance – and as president of the Science Commission of the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation. .
Manes, in an exclusive dialogue he had with Infobae from New York, recovered the concept of mental capital, which he expanded on in his interventions. “We understand mental capital to be the totality of cognitive, emotional and social resources that a person has to function in society and interact with others and the environment. These resources constitute the basis for the acquisition of learning throughout life that support the person’s subsequent educational, labor and social achievements.
Based on the importance of these resources, Manes added: “A country’s investment in the promotion and protection of people’s brain health enhances the capabilities necessary to face the 21st century economy based on ideas and knowledge. Public policies that promote the care and development of mental capital and well-being throughout life have a profound impact on both an individual and collective level.”
For this reason, he stressed that the way is science, since “based on the availability of scientific knowledge, the governments of each of the countries in the region – and these, in a collaborative manner – have the opportunity to carry out policies that promote investment in the cognitive, social and emotional resources of their communities that allow for both economic and social prosperity.”
Manes, together with Norman Lamb, former president of the Science and Technology Committee of the Parliament of Great Britain, and Harris Eyre, from the Baker Institute for Public Policies and leader in the concept of mental capital
Manes spoke Monday and Tuesday, first at the Mental Health and Research Conference at the Harvard Club of New York City, as part of the Policy Panel on Funding and Capacity Building. The next day he participated in the session on Brain Capital Building (Mental Capital Development), within the framework of the summit held in New York.
During the first of these meetings, experts highlighted how their countries and regions are addressing investment in brain research, how they are addressing the societal burden of mental illness, and how they are exploring collaborative ways that can help boost efforts. to achieve better mental health for all.
At the Brain Capital Building, the Argentine scientist spoke, along with other prestigious speakers, on “Designing and implementing national and regional agreements on brains,” which discussed the essential need to prepare societies for accelerated technological change and advances in artificial intelligence. Likewise, topics on mental health, well-being and how to build national, regional and global agreements on the brain were addressed.
As the Argentine neuroscientist explained there, “prioritizing mental capital, brain health and caring for mental health disorders of citizens is essential to improve the general health and quality of life of people, but also to ensure the foundations for the development of a nation.”
Manes mentioned the barriers that this task encounters in search of the well-being of the population, which have to do with “the very high levels of poverty and vulnerability in our region, added to the effects of the pandemic on mental health.” Both factors, he said, “constitute an alarm signal that should prompt us to urgently prioritize the promotion and protection of mental capital through comprehensive, coordinated and evidence-based actions.”
Following the success of the Science Summit at UNGA77, which featured the participation of more than 1,600 speakers in more than 400 sessions, this year the European Global Health Connector Alliance (ECHAlliance) played a leading role through discussions and panels.
The meeting at the Harvard Club of New York City, organized by the European Brain Council (EBC), aligned in its main focus with the Science Summit, emphasized the policies, regulations and financial environments that support global scientific collaborations in the brain area. Among the most notable contributions to the debate were current partnerships and the potential for global collaboration in neuroscience and the treatment of brain disorders.
In this way, the Science Summit at UNGA78 is being a reference point for global scientific collaboration, with a special focus on brain research and health, with an emphasis on examining the policies, regulations and financial environments necessary to implement and maintain the mechanisms scientists required to support global collaborations between experts. Participants highlighted existing partnerships, roadmaps and the potential for extended global work specifically in the brain area, neuroscience, but also in the treatment of brain disorders, both neurological and mental.
These meetings allow key expert counterparts from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia to contact each other in one room to share best practices, exchange ongoing work and priority areas in their countries, explore and identify ways enhanced collaboration to forge a joint path to understand and address progress and improvements together.
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