'NZ needs 88 neurologists, it has just 36' - AUT brain expert Valery Feigin calls for doubling of resources

One of the world’s leading experts in brain health says New Zealand needs to double the resources it's putting into neurological healthcare and research.

It comes after new research found that nearly half of the New Zealand population will suffer from a neurological disorder at some point, from chronic headaches to strokes or dementia.

AUT Professor Valery Feigin told Newshub Nation that the Government needs to step up.

"We need 88 full-time equivalent neurologists in New Zealand but we currently have only 36," he says.

"Then with stroke, for example, only one-in-five people discharged from hospital who require rehabilitation are getting it in the community and only for about three months,

"However, recovering from stroke is a continuum - it goes for months and sometimes for years and even currently we are not coping with the [50 thousand stroke patients] requiring care. What is going to happen in 10 to 20 years when these numbers are doubled?"

Globally, the number of people affected by neurological disorders has risen over the past 15 years from one-in-five to one-in three, due to people living longer. In New Zealand, the number is closer to one-in-two, with 60,000 people a year dying from a neurological disease.

Professor Feigin says he's confident policy makers like Health Minister David Clark, who attended the recent Global Burden of Disease Summit at AUT, are becoming more aware of the strain this will put on the health budget.

"Historically, neurological disorders were overshadowed by cardiovascular disorders or cancer, but now neurological disorders are up front in terms of all other disorders in terms of causing disabilities."

Nearly 9000 New Zealanders have a stroke every year, a fifth of which are fatal. However, professor Feigin up to 90 percent of these could have been prevented by taking steps like lowering blood pressure below 120, controlling cholesterol and stopping smoking.

He says investing more into these kinds of preventative measures is a no-brainer for politicians.

"They will see the results of investing in preventative strategies during their election term and I would have thought that's a powerful supportive message for them and for everyone

"It's a win-win situation."

Newshub Nation.

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