The African Academy of Neurology (AFAN) was created in August 2015 under the aegis of the WFN to be the African regional representative body for all that relates to neurology and allied fields. AFAN collaborates actively with other international organisations; the WFN, EAN, AAN, and MDS amongst others, to achieve the goals of AFAN and its member states. These international-organisations have been invaluable in their support; financially, logistically and by sharing expertise. AFAN is still in its fledgling state and relies greatly on its international partners. With passing years, as we gain experience and become stronger, we hope to reach our place on the international neurological stage as equal partners in the theatre of neurological disease.
At the upcoming congress in East London, South Africa which will be held in conjunction with the annual congress of the Neurological Association of South Africa, AFAN will be able to showcase inter and intra-continental cooperation, with speakers from within and outside of the continent. The congress programme is full and has something for every neurologist irrespective of continent of practice. AFAN looks forward eagerly and invites all interested persons and groups to join us on our journey in search of new horizons and into the future.
With biennial conferences, AFAN is able to rally its members, identify the principal concerns and address burning issues relevant to the practice of neurology at internationally acceptable standards and improve the quality of neurological care afforded the population of the African continent. AFAN is particularly keen to foster and assist in the professional growth of young neurologists and to make sure that our populations and their neurological diseases are not left behind in the mill of globalisation.
To put things into perspective: Neurology first originated in Egypt. Africa, the cradle of
neurology, is the second most-populous continent with 1.3B current-population. Today, however, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have neurologist-to-population ratios critically far below the WHO-recommended ratio of 1:70,000. Neurologists are a precious part of the scourge of the brain drain that Africa faces.
Brain disorders affect 250M people in LMIC, as a result of epidemiological transition: ageing, population growth, rapid urbanization, lifestyle-changes; and African ancestry sometimes demonstrates enhanced genetic-predisposition, younger-age, different subtypes, worse-severity and poorer outcomes. Populations worldwide are susceptible to chronic diseases. Variation in rates exist because of differential-exposures to environmental causes, including lifestyles, cultural practices, health-seeking behaviours, inequalities in access to neurological-care, inadequate resources/infrastructure/equipment, health-care personnel/manpower development, workforce inefficiency with personnel centralized in/near big-cities, lack of neurology training-programs, research-facilities, poor community health awareness, socio–economic and funding differences. Policy-makers, members of government, civil-society and patient-associations should have their interactions and information sharing placed under the WFN, and by default – AFAN – umbrella to mitigate the suffering of Africans. AFAN intends to create platforms for reflection, education, exchange of info between African/Western-colleagues and foster collaboration. The upcoming congress will showcase all of these aspects and AFAN wishes to invite colleagues from far and wide to participate in this neurological fiesta.