Task Force on Africa

Welcome message from Prof. Richard Walker, Chair.


Prof. Richard Walker, Chair, discusses the activities of the
sub-Saharan Africa task force.

MDS-ES Summer School for Young Neurologists

The Task Force on Africa is currently reviewing applications for the MDS-ES Summer School for Young Neurologists that will take place in Barcelona, Spain, July 18-20, 2014. Please contact Megan Daniels with any questions.

To read about past MDS Summer School experiences, please click here.

Task Force Update from the Chair

January 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Data on Parkinson’s disease (PD) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are limited but it appears that the age-adjusted prevalence may be a little lower than other parts of the world. The likely explanation for this is a lack of diagnosis, and therefore treatment, leading to early fatality. There are few doctors per head of population in SSA, and this is especially true for specialists such as neurologists.

Many people, even healthcare professionals, are unaware of PD and considerable stigma is experienced by patients. Even if patients are diagnosed there is a limited choice of medication and affordable, sustainable, drug treatment is not possible for most. However, against this background, it is possible for patients to be diagnosed and treated, both with therapy and drugs.

After a special symposium at the 13th International Congress of PD and Movement Disorders (MD) in June 2009 in Paris, the SSA Interest Group was ratified by MDS in January 2010 and there have been subsequent meetings of the group at the 14th and 15th International Congresses in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

The African Task Force was ratified in April 2012 and the first committee meeting took place at the 16th International Congress in Dublin in June 2012, with a plan to meet at all future International Congresses. Committee meetings are also conducted by phone conferences.

Educational Programming

MDS has provided support for meetings in Mali (2009) and South Africa (2010) and has supported the attendance of 3 young neurologists from SSA at the Movement Disorders Summer School in Naples, Italy in July 2011, and 5 at the Summer School in Paris in July 2012 with plans for 4 more to attend the Summer School in the UK in 2013. Additionally, the Task Force recently supported two African participants to attend the MDS Allied Health Professional Summer School in Nijmegen, Netherlands, with additional programming following the course.

In 2012 we set up a pilot drug donation scheme (from Teva in Canada) for patients who can’t afford drug treatment, based at a Movement Disorders clinic in Lagos, Nigeria. If this continues to be successful this may lead to other schemes.

Parkinson's Nurse Specialist Training Course in Moshi, Tanzania

audio file Listen to the BBC World Service news report about the course

Nurse Specialist Course in Tanzania

In December 2012 we ran the first East African PD nurse specialist course in Moshi, northern Tanzania, with participants from throughout East Africa.

The course was jointly funded by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) and MDS, as will be a course on PD for non-specialist doctors in Ghana, planned for September 2013. Based on evaluation of these courses we hope there will be further such courses throughout Africa in the future.

Many people in the world with PD are never diagnosed or treated and this is particularly true for the vast majority of Africa. However, diagnosis, along with affordable and sustainable treatment, of PD in Africa should be possible and is the main aim of the Task Force. For this to be achieved we need to address training, raising awareness, and advocacy for drug treatment. We look forward to furthering the mission of MDS through this Task Force.

Please note that we have just written to WHO about updating the essential drugs list for PD. This will be available for comment on the WHO website beginning January 10, 2013.

Warm regards,

Richard Walker

Richard Walker, MD
Chair, Task Force on Africa


MDS Staff Liaison: Megan Daniels