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MDS-African Section Leadership Positions

The MDS Officers appointed the incoming African Section Officers. The MDS Officers and incoming MDS-Africa Officers then formed the African Section Nominating Committee to recommend the incoming African Section Executive Committee Members. Four Executive Committee members will serve two year terms and four will serve four year terms. Please find biographies and vision statements from the incoming Officers and the candidate Executive Committee members below.

Incoming African Section Officers

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  Njideka Okubadejo – Chair 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Njideka Okubadejo is a Professor at the University of Lagos, and Consultant Neurologist to Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Obafemi Awolowo University (1989), and postgraduate fellowship in Internal Medicine and Neurology (National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria) in 2000, becoming her country’s first female neurologist. She was Visiting Clinical Fellow in Movement Disorders at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (July 2004 – January 2005), and is an Academy of Neurology (AAN) Palatucci Advocacy Leader (2009) and Fellow of the AAN (2020). Since joining the MDS in 2005 she has served as co-Chair of the Task Force on Africa, Chair of the Africa Section Steering Committee, and member of the Telemedicine Study Group and Conference Scientific Planning Committee (2022 Congress). She established the first Movement Disorders Clinic in Nigeria, and has been faculty at Movement Disorders trainings for neurologists and non-neurologists in several countries across Africa. She was awarded the 2020 MDS President’s Distinguished Award.  

Vision Statement

I am passionate about ensuring that Africans with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders have access to care. In order to contribute to achieving this, I am dedicated to mentorship and leadership to expand movement disorders education for health care professionals. I believe ‘knowledge is vanity if not shared for humanity’s good’. My mission is to secure the future of Movement Disorders in Africa by encouraging health care providers to take special interest in the field. In furtherance of these, I will engage with global and local partners to lend a loud voice to advocacy efforts in low-middle income countries particularly in Africa, and work assiduously towards improvements in infrastructure, training manpower and enabling access to good quality affordable care. The MDS offers the most credible international platform to achieve this vision and I hope to contribute my quota to achieving the society’s goals.  

  Jonathan Carr – Chair-Elect 2021-2023, Chair 2023-2025

Personal Bio

Professor Carr obtained his medical degree at UCT and completed his neurology residency at the Mt Sinai Medical Centre in New York; subsequent training followed at UBC in Vancouver at the Neurodegenerative Disease Centre and later the Scottish Brain Imaging Research Centre in Edinburgh. Master and Doctoral degrees were obtained in the fields of genetics (juvenile myoclonic epilepsy) and neurophysiology (cortical excitability in myoclonic epilepsy). He established the clinical arm of a neurogenetics laboratory at Stellenbosch in 2005. He currently serves on the African section of the Movement Disorders Society, having previously served on the African Task Force of MDS. 

Vision Statement

My vision for my role within the MDS is to assist with the training of as many neurologists within southern Africa as I can.  In so doing, I anticipate that these trainees will become knowledgeable and informed about movement disorders and that they too, in turn, will propagate and disseminate their knowledge throughout Africa.  Working through the MDS in Africa will allow me to collaborate with many colleagues, both French-speaking and English-speaking, from a wide range of backgrounds and, thereby promote harmony and fellowship throughout the continent of Africa, leading to improved patient care and research. 

  Kigocha Okeng’o – Secretary 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Dr Kigocha Okeng’o is a neurophysician, and also the Head of the Neurology unit at the Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam Tanzania. 

She did her medical training at the Muhimbili University of health and Allied Sciences Dar es Salaam Tanzania. Her Neurology training was done at Muhimbili University of health and Allied Sciences Dar es Salaam Tanzania and CMC Vellore India. 

She is a member of the MDS since 2011 and is currently a member of the African steering committee, representing East Africa. She has made the MDS known in East Africa, and has increased its East African members. Furthermore, Dr Okeng’o has participated in several MDS international conferences and attended a summer school in Naples Italy. She has contributed in organizing regional movement disorders training courses including the MDS virtual African school for young neurologists  in June 2021. 

Vision Statement

By being a leader in the MDS, I will continue my work to increase members from Africa and make  MDS more popular among Africans. I will also work on improving the management and awareness of various movement disorders in Africa. This will be done by widely publicizing the society and its different activities as well as benefits of being a member. This shall also include organizing various trainings easily available to clinicians and patients.

  Albert Akpalu – Secretary-Elect 2021-2023, Secretary 2023-2025

Personal Bio

Dr. Akpalu is a senior lecturer and consultant neurologist at the University of Ghana Medical School and the Secretary General of the West African College of Physicians. 

Management of Parkinson’s disease has been an unmet need in Africa and Dr. Akpalu’s collaboration with the Parkinson’s disease group at the Institute in Milan has yielded positive insights into the characterization as well as genetic aspects of PD culminating in a seminal paper in Brain. Currently the group is exploring the benefits of a cheap legume seed Mucuna Puriens as an alternative to Levodopa 

Dr. Akpalu is co-investigator with Dr Roberto Cilia/ Prof Pezzoli on Filling the Gap about Movement Disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa: The ‘Parkinson’s disease in Africa’ Collaboration Project since 2010. 

Dr. Akpalu is also a member of MDS Task Force on Africa, and the organizer of the first non-neurologist course on movement disorders and PD for Nurses organized by MDS and have ran several courses on movement disorders. Dr. Akpalu also had the honor of hosting Prof Stanely Fahn at his movement disorders clinic in 2019 to observe the clinic’s work on Mucuna Puriens in Accra. 

Vision Statement

I hope in my new role as Secretary-Elect of the MDS African section to promote: 

Multidisciplinary care of Parkinson’s disease treatment with training of more physiotherapists, Nutritionists, Psychologists and Nurses to improve our outcomes. 

Access to treatment, as this is still a major problem for all our patients with affordability being the major problem. The MDS through the African section will look at modalities to improve this. 

The exploration of other avenues of cheaper alternatives eg Mucuna should be moved from a pilot basis to large scale cheap production/trials to have a paradigm shift

I will work closely with the current secretary for a vibrant and active MDS African section utilizing technology to harness and improve training of movement disorders across the continent 

  Masharip Atadzhanov – Treasurer 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Masharip Atadzhanov is Professor of Neurology at School of Medicine, the University of Zambia and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. He has a strong commitment to teaching/training neurology undergraduate and postgraduate students. His main research focuses on clinical and molecular genetics of Parkinson’s disease, spinocerebellar ataxia and gut microbiome – Parkinson’s disease in Zambian population. He is founding member and current Chairman of the Neurological and Psychiatric Society of Zambia, which is Affiliate Member of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. He is a reviewer in several journals and member of the editorial board ‘Research and Reviews in Parkinsonism’.

Prof. Atadzhanov did his training in neurology and clinical genetics and earned a PhD degree from the Central Postgraduate Training Institute for Physicians in Moscow. His work focused on clinical genetic analysis of Parkinson's disease. In addition he earned a Doctor of Science degree from the Research Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology, also in Moscow, where he worked on MPTP and autoimmune models of experimental parkinsonian syndromes. Over the years, his main research interest has been clinical and experimental parkinsonism. Prof Atadzhanov has so far supervised more than 20 PhD students, published more than 170 articles including 15 book chapters.

Vision Statement

The MDS is one of the best run professional societies, and it has been a great privilege and pleasure to participate in the MDS-Africa steering committee. My vision for the MDS-Africa section is to expand movement disorder sub-specialty in Zambia. I will bring my expertise and enthusiasm to promote excellence in clinical care, education and international collaboration in research of movement disorders in our region.

  Samia Ben Sassi – Treasurer-Elect 2021-2023, Treasurer 2023-2025

Personal Bio

Dr. Samia Ben Sassi is associate professor of neurology at the university Tunis El Manar. She completed her medical studies and her residency in neurology at the University of Tunis. She had then a fellowship in neurophysiology at the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. She is also certified in statistical methods and epidemiology and in medical genetics and genomics. 

Dr. Ben Sassi has been involved in the study of Parkinson’s disease and hereditary ataxias, funded by various national and international organizations such as Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, with published findings in international peer-reviewed journals.                                                                                        

Currently, Dr. Ben Sassi is member of the MDS African education committee and the IBRO-MENA executive committee. She served as director and faculty in several MDS-Africa movement disorders schools and virtual professor programs intended for English and French speaking clinicians in Africa. 

Vision Statement

I hope to support clinicians in Africa in improving their skills at diagnosing and managing movement disorders, through promoting educational programs adapted to their needs and encouraging interest and participation in the MDS activities. By collaborating with other local and international organizations, I aim to help disseminating knowledge about movement disorders in Africa among clinicians, scientists and the general public. My goal is also to promote an African regional and international network as a vehicle for clinical and research collaboration in the movement disorders field. 

Candidate Executive Committee Members

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  Biniyam Ayele - Executive Committee Member 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Dr. Biniyam A. Ayele is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Consultant Neurologist at Department of Neurology, Black Lion Specialized Hospital School of Medicine College of Health Sciences AAU. He received his Doctor of Medicine from School of Medicine Jimma University in 2010. Subsequently, he received his Neurology specialty certificate from AAU in 2017. Dr. Biniyam also attended clinical neurophysiology and Neurosonology fellowship training at Kasir Aniy Hospital, Cairo University Cairo Egypt. He has completed a one year MDS Young Leadership Training program and graduated in October 2020. In addition, he is also currently serving as a member of MDS African Educational Committee. He has attended several local and international movement disorder conferences and courses. He has also hosted a two virtual movement disorder courses for colleagues in Africa. Dr. Biniyam is also a research fellow of Medical Education Initiative Program (MEPI) Addis Ababa University program. To date, he has published more than 26 peer reviewed articles on national and international journals and served as an Ad hoc reviewer for PLOSE ONE, Ethiopian Medical Journal (EMJ), Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences (EJHS), and Ethiopian Journal of Health Development (EJHD). 

Vision Statement

The African continent is home to nearly 1.4 billion inhabitants. Furthermore, the population of Africa is expected to be 2.5 billion by the end of mid-21st century. Thus, the establishment of regional sections such as, the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS) African Section (MDS-AS) will have a vital importance in addressing age related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease; which are expected to increase in this region. My vision for the youngest MDS regional section (MDS-AS) will focus on addressing the 

three most important area of deficiencies related to neurological sciences pertaining to movement disorders. 

  1. Human resource development 

Currently only handful of movement disorders specialist and specialist nurses are working in Africa. Increasing the number of MD specialist and specialist nurses in the region is an important priority area; as training more professionals in movement disorders will ultimately improve the care delivered to our patients. 

  1. Improving the standard of care 

Currently, the standard of care for patients with movement disorder in Africa is very poor compared to the other regions. This is mainly related to poor neurological care, lack of advanced diagnostic setups, and near-zero availability of even the most basic anti-parkinsonian medications. 

  1. Improving the African research output 

Annually, very few studies were published from the African continent. Currently, significant difference is observed even among different regions in African continent itself, when it comes to research outputs. 

For example, countries in the North, West, and South African region publish more articles compared to the East and The Central African region. Therefore, it’s important to narrow this gap. Furthermore, improving the quality of the research outputs from Africa is also an important area which demands major attention in our region. 

  Maouly Fall - Executive Committee Member 2021-2023

Personal Bio

After internships and studies in French universities, Dr. Maouly Fall is currently the only qualified specialist in abnormal movements in Senegal and French-speaking West Africa. Dr. Fall has been able to develop a specialized consultation in abnormal movement and Parkinson's disease and Dr. Fall performs botulinum toxin injections. Dr. Fall train students in specialization in neurology and participates in research. 

Vision Statement

I was able to get a diploma and complete internships in abnormal movements to fill a gap in Senegal as there were none in Senegal. My vision is to develop abnormal movements in general in Africa, particularly in French-speaking West Africa. I would also like to participate in the research, care, and training of the youngest neurologists and to perpetuate training/guarantee quality care for our patients. 

  Houyam Tibar - Executive Committee Member 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Dr. Houyam Tibar, a MD-PhD candidate, is currently an assistant professor in neurology in Rabat (Morocco). Her field of interest is Parkinson's disease and movement disorders. Dr. Tibar started her PhD thesis in 2015 about the pathophysiology of Non-motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease, and plans to support the thesis soon. Dr. Tibar finished residency in December 2018 and became a neurologist. 

Additionally, Dr. Tibar recently passed a competition to become an assistant professor in Neurology. Dr. Tibar has been a proud member serving the MDS community via 2 important positions (in the African Education Committee and the Young Members Group Steering Committee). 

Vision Statement

I can describe myself as a dedicated and motivated MDS member, I believe in our community and the high-quality knowledge spread through the website, the courses and the schools. My first time of being involved officially in an MDS committee was a good experience for me to get to know how it works. I feel being more able to contribute effectively especially in my new position as an assistant professor. My primary goal is to make MDS more known within the community of young Moroccan residents and neurologists. I would like to get them more involved in the MDS community and to benefit more from the multiple activities offered by the MDS. Being a neuroscience PhD candidate myself, I foresee to make a link between neurologists and scientists via the MDS clubs and scientific events. If selected, I will try my best to be an efficient and devoted member 

  Riaan van Coller - Executive Committee Member 2021-2023

Personal Bio

Riaan van Coller is a practicing neurologist in Pretoria, South Africa. His interest is mainly in Parkinson’s disease and Deep Brain Stimulation for movement disorders. He is appointed as a consultant and lecturer in the Neurology Department, University of Pretoria, where he is involved in research and teaching under-graduate and neurologists in training in movement disorders. He obtained his medical and neurology training at the University of Pretoria. Since 2019 he served as a member of the African Educational Committee and participated in the organization and as faculty at the various MDS meetings in South Africa and internationally. He is active in the South African Movement Disorders Interest Group and arranges the twice yearly meeting that incorporates the attendance of an MDS sponsored virtual professor. 

Vision Statement

In a poorly represented country and region, education in the management of Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and other movement disorders is essential to improve patient centered care. I am passionate about education and continued training, especially via international collaborations. This is an important aspect of the success of the MDS and I hope to build on that on a regional level. 

Locally my focus would be training of younger colleagues to provide improved care and skills to our patients. Training of nurses and care-givers in the community is also an important focus. Many patients in care facilities are completely reliant on care-givers that in many instances do not understand the needs of patients with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative conditions. Patient support is essential and teaching patients to demand improved care from their doctors and medical insurance is vital. 

  Ali Shalash - Executive Committee Member 2021-2025

Personal Bio

Ali Shalash graduated from faculty of medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt in 1998, completed his PhD in 2007, and his professorship of neurology in 2017. Ali participated in training programs in Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany 2012 and University college of London, UK, 2014. 

Ali is the founder of the first movement disorders (MDs) clinic at his institute and the Clinical Coordinator of Egyptian Network of Neurodegenerative Diseases (ENND). Ali has published several papers in high impact journals and he is a reviewer in several journals.. He graduated from MDS LEAP program class 2018. 

Currently, Ali organized the 1st MDS School for Young Neurologists in Africa (Cairo) and other several national and international, live and online educational activities in the field of movement disorders. He is the founder and director of African MDs Grand Round (multicenter webinar series) 2020. 

Currently, Ali is the head of Ain Shams MDs group, chair of MDS-Africa education committee, member of the MDS-Africa Steering Committee, MDS Telemedicine group, MDS group of PD genetics, and MDS pediatric movement disorders group. 

Vision Statement

I am honored to participate in the MDS-Africa steering committee and African education committee since their creation and worked with other colleagues to achieve big steps towards the creation of MDS Africa section, increasing membership and promoting educational activities allover Africa, according to guidance and support of MDS officers. Additionally, my participation in number of MDS groups/taskforces and graduation from LEAP program enhanced my experience in MDS, increase my network and collaboration with colleagues in Africa and other regions and working as team work. 

I think that I got an experience and vision that enables me to help in establishing the MDS-Africa section and achieving its goals through increasing membership, promote education and training of clinicians and health care providers all over the continent, promote collaboration with societies and groups in Africa related to our goals, increasing Affiliate Members in Africa, support young members in this field, facilitate research and advocacy efforts related to Movement Disorders; and increase MDS leadership in Africa. 

  Yared Zewde - Executive Committee Member 2021-2025

Personal Bio

Dr. Yared Zenebe earned his medical degree from Jimma University in 2012. Then he served as a general practitioner and inpatient director at Ataye District Hospital for 2 years. Following this, he joined the neurology residency training and completed with distinction in 2017. Since then Dr. Yared is serving with the rank of Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Department of Neurology at the College of Health Sciences in Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He has active engagements in several MDS educational programs including his current participation in the MDS leadership training program as an MDS LEAP class of 2020 by representing the MDS-Africa group. Dr. Yared is also taking part in different educational and research activities including his active role in the International Parkinson's Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC)-Africa education committee and country representative in this genomic study group. 

Vision Statement

My vision for the MDS-African is to promote excellence in clinical care and research of movement disorders in Africa. As a young and enthusiastic neurologist who is in his early career life with ample experiences in leadership, I want to take part in the MDS Africa Executive committee. Through my participation, I will collaborate with fellow members and organize several capacity building training to disseminate updated knowledge in movement disorders among health care professionals and the general public. In addition, I will create digital platforms to encourage scientific data sharing and promote collaboration among African scientists and researchers, which will create strong intracontinental links and advance scientific researches. As a trainee in the MDS LEAP program, I also want to exercise my leadership skills in the advancement of movement disorder discipline in Ethiopia and the African continent in general. 

  Oluwadamilola Ojo - Executive Committee Member 2021-2025

Personal Bio

Oluwadamilola “Lara” Ojo is a senior lecturer in Medicine and Consultant Neurologist specializing in Movement Disorders at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and Lagos University Teaching Hospital Nigeria. She trained at the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (2001–2007), with additional training as a clinical research fellow in Movement Disorders at the Center For Neurologic Restoration, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, U.S.A. from 2014 – 2015. She is a member of the MDS LEAP Class of 2019 and serves on advisory teams and the Web-based learning sub-committee of the MDS.

Dr. Ojo has been involved in different efforts to improve movement disorders education and quality of care in Nigeria, and has served as faculty for MDS educational programs in Nigeria. She is the current secretary of the Neurology Subspecialty of the Faculty of Internal Medicine, National Postgraduate College of Nigeria. She also coordinates the Nigeria PD Research Network and is a member of IPDGC-Africa.

Her main research interest is in clinical profile and genetics Parkinson disease and dystonia in Nigerians and black Africans.

Vision Statement

My vision for the MDS-Africa section is to increase the awareness of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders among healthcare professionals and the people of Africa. I also want to use the platform of the MDS to encourage medical students, internists and allied healthcare professionals to consider a career in neuroscience and movement disorders thus strengthening the section in future. My vision includes increasing opportunities for education and improving access to neurology and movement disorder training across Africa. I believe these will over time result in earlier recognition, referrals to healthcare facilities and also largely debunk the myths surrounding PD and other neurodegenerative diseases in Africa.

I also want to work with others across the region to promote collaborations across the continent in order to facilitate research targeted not only at closing the gaps in the literature on PD and other movement disorders from Africa, but also research targeting the specific care needs of the African living with a movement disorder.

Lastly, I am standing for election to the Executive Committee of the MDS because I believe the section can provide guidance to their respective governments for development of policies that will result in improvements in medical and neurology education, improved facilities and standards of training and healthcare service, improved access to much needed medications for care of movement disorders, retention of the healthcare personnel being trained across the region, and policies to encourage research into neurodegenerative diseases especially Parkinson disease.

  Ferzana Amod - Executive Committee Member 2021-2025

Personal Bio

I am a Neurologist working in the second largest province in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal. I have been a member of the MDS since 2010. I started the first Movement Disorder Clinic here in 2011. Since then, I have been actively involved in developing PD treatment protocols (including deep brain stimulation with the Neurosurgical and Psychology team). Over the past 3 years I have been a member of the African Education Committee of the Movement Disorder Society. Thus far, I have been the Course Director for the Movement Disorder Course that was held in Cape Town in March 2020 and the Neurology Registrar teaching course in November 2020. Being part of this has developed my leadership, teaching and organization skills. I have been an Honorary Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine since 2011. My current research is aimed at the usefulness of various neuroimaging tools in Parkinsonism and collecting non-motor symptoms in PD. 

Vision Statement

My personal vision as a member of MDS has been to learn about Movement Disorders and to teach those skills to trainees and colleagues in our unit. Over the past decade this vision has expanded to create awareness of Movement Disorders to nurses, Medical Officers and General Practitioners in the Province. Being a member of MDS-AS Teaching Committee further allowed us to network as a team to corroborate with Local and International Teachers. I can contribute positively to the MDS-AS Executive Committee in the form of commitment, support for programs, assessing the needs of the continent and teaching if required. I would like to corroborate with other Neurologists and Movement Disorder Specialists in Africa to provide a support base for education and training. 

Proxy voting is now open for the 2021-2023 elections for MDS Leadership positions.

Please visit this page to submit your proxy ballot by September 10. In order to vote in the election, members must submit a proxy ballot. The ballots will be tallied at the MDS Business Meeting and Regional Assemblies. 

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