In the autumn of 2005, the organizations representing people living with a spinal cord injury in the different countries in Europe were offered a very special opportunity – to meet in Nottwil, Switzerland, in order to discuss the foundation of a pan-European federation.
The idea, in itself, was not new: some networks were already in place and had been for several years. But this was the first time that the initiative to actually gather as many organizations as possible had been taken.
It came as no surprise that the organizations from the 12 European countries who attended the initial meeting were unanimous in the decision to found a federation – a federation that could and should include all countries throughout Europe.
In spring 2006 the organisations met again in Nottwil – this time 16 countries were represented – to attend the founding assembly of the European Spinal Cord Injury Federation. At this meeting the Statutes of the federation were approved by the delegates, the members of the first Executive Board were elected and the work of ESCIF could begin in earnest.
In the last 15 years ESCIF was able to perform projects such as the centralisation policy which had impact all over Europe. Today, ESCIF represents 32 national organisations from 28 European countries.
“The creation of ESCIF is an important step forward and of significant benefit for people in Europe living with a spinal cord injury. The close contact between the national organisations will allow an exchange of information and experience that will not only benefit people with SCI but also the physicians, therapists and researchers who work in this field.
In Scandinavia, we have always enjoyed a fruitful collaboration between the organisations and their members, and the professionals – now this relationship can be extended throughout Europe and across national boundaries. Personally I believe we will be able to develop better treatment for people with SCI by joining forces.
In particular, the executive committee of ESCIF has already shown great initiative in their workshop presentations at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society in Reykjavik, Iceland June 2007.”
Fin Biering-Sørensen, MD, DMSc