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A letter from the Foreign Minister of Iceland to the Secretary General of the Nordic council of Ministers regarding the nervous system.

Dear Mr Høybråten,

I refer to the letter sent to you by the Prime Minister of Iceland, dated 5 June 2015, which mentions, among other things, the Icelandic Government’s efforts to raise awareness of nervous systemillnesses and spinal cord injuries – one of Iceland’s priorities in the preparation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Now that new Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted, I would take this opportunity to draw your attention to a stipulation in the UN’s political declaration for sustainable development (Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, paragraph 26), which obligates UN Member States to work to prevent and treat neurological disorders. I propose that the Nordic Council of Ministers initiate an analysis of the Nordic neurological research data bank and coordination of the data therein using the latest computer technology, with the aim of identifying common patterns in the research results that could help researchers achieve a better understanding of the workings of the nervous system. 


The main reason it has been so difficult to identify ways of healing the nervous system in cases of, for example, spinal cord and brain injuries, psychoses, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, MS, MND and other illnesses, is our limited insight into the human nervous system and its complicated functions. It has also been difficult to identify effective treatments for these illnesses. 

That is why it is important to take steps on an international level to expand our knowledge of how the nervous system works. I believe that the Nordic countries are well placed to take the lead on this matter.

If it came to fruition, the project could be in line with NordForsk’s and Nordic eScience Globalisation Initiative’s aim to secure the Nordic region a leading position in research and innovation on an international level. The project is also in accordance with the Nordic Council’s 2011 recommendation that the Nordic region should make spinal cord injuries one of its priorities. A Nordic Contingency Group for Highly Specialised Treatment is currently working on the matter.
Finally, I should like to highlight, and express my thanks for, the Nordic initiative that resulted in a nervous system stipulation being included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-30. It is also important to note that this matter is now being processed as part of the follow-up to the Könberg report. Icelandic associations for sufferers of nervous system illnesses and injuries, the Icelandic Parliament and the Icelandic Government worked to ensure the approval of the stipulationand based its proposal on, among other things, the Nordic Council’s spinal cord recommendation from 2011.

Yours sincerely,
Lilja Alfreðsdóttir
Minister for Foreign Affairs


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Postal address: Institute of Spinal Cord Injury, Iceland - ISCI,
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