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Neurological disorders are on the rise in New Zealand and worldwide.

According to an article by Professor Valery Feigin, the director at The National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at the University of Auckland.

Neurological disorders such as stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis migraine and many others have ranked as the leading cause group of disabilities in 2015, responsible for 10% of the global disability reports. These disorders have also ranked as the second-leading cause of deaths in the world (about 17%).

In New Zealand, there were more than 1.2 million people in 2015 who reported to suffer from a neurological disorder, ranging from tension-type headaches, migraines, medication overuse to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Of all the neurological disorders analysed in this study, dementias and stroke in New Zealand were the leading causes of death in 2015 (8.5% and 8.0%, respectively of all 31,600 registered deaths in 2015).

The number of people who suffer from some type of neurological disorder in New Zealand increased from 1.4 million in 1990 to 1.8 million in 2015. This means that 1 in 3 people in NZ suffer from a neurological disorder (e.g. tension-type headache, stroke and dementia). The percentage of disabilities and deaths whose main causes were neurological disorders also increased between 1990 and 2015, from 10% to 14.4% (disabilities) and 11% to 18% (deaths).

This increase in number of people suffering from some type of neurological disorder has been a global trend in the last 25 years, according to this study. Population growth and rise in life expectancy are responsible for this trend, even though there has been a decrease in mortality caused by stroke and communicable neurological diseases (e.g. meningitis, tetanus etc).

The research also shows that the number of sufferers from neurological disorder will only continue to increase. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of preventive and treating services by policy makers and health-care providers.

(This article is based on the article Published in the Headlines Magazine, Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, Winter 2018 publication).


Feigin, V.L. and the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study Group 2016 (2018). Measuring performance on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational locations: A systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet, 391(10136), 2236-2271. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30994-2)