By Doumbe Bell Joseph Gaston in Douala
The third point congress of the African Academy of Neurologists and the Cameroonian Academy of Neurologists was held in Douala last October 21 to 23 to have neurology impact robustly on the general health system, to know or evaluate the progress of neurology on the continent and of course, in Cameroon in particular and also exchange experiences, expertise and information on the way forward .
The attendance was massive. More than 35 African, European and world academy delegates with notables such as professors who have been training the continent’s neurologists and those that were instrumental in the birth of neurological academies in the regions of Africa.
The President of the World Academy and the European Union talking through the webinar and these from the African region present, all encouraged the delegates to stay on track despite the cascade of challenges ahead to try and turn the tides for the better.
The key African speakers or delegates admitted that Africa was the least in neurological training, research and manpower and something ought to change that landscape.
The current president of the African academy of neurology Ghanaian Augustina Charway Felli also a neuropsychologist did not waver from the appalling statistics and added that the general health care systems which seemed to show some signs of progression in a few African countries however small the number, did not only show a downward trend but nose–dived because of the Covid pandemic and the negative economic impact that followed. She included the population growth rate of2% with present population figures of 1.3 billion in Africa and plummeting G.D.P in African as a problem. There is also the hesitance in providing adequate public health spending that surfaces problems of access to a physician and no steps or incentives at sight to reduce the brain drain of experts from Africa, as a few of the many problems .
“But we have to compare ourselves with the best rather than with those who are a little better than us in order to come out of this”
Mme Charway Felli was optimistic that all stakeholders of the healthcare systems should invest more in training research and more adequate public health spending.
“Are we resource limited because we have not yet planned our health care system or …?”She wondered. “Is it the question of affordable drugs”?
Neurology is usually referred to cause problems related to the nervous system and brain health Among them are brain disorders , stress , strokes ,comas, migraine or headaches , and others among which epilepsy has become a significant health problem and killer in the continent thereby increasing the mortality rate .
The next congress is scheduled for an unnamed country in West Africa after Cameroon (when we organise a congress it moves from one region of African to the next).The first congress or edition was in North Africa, the second Africa; which better place else than in Cameroon?The next maybe in West Africa or East Africa. “We have representation all over Cameroon”.
About the challenges, the AFAN President said they are few and the tools are often very expensive to diagnose and treat. “It is to access quality care. we can involve our governments to make these things more affordable and accessible. As long as you have a brain you can have a brain disease just like anybody else in the world so we need to take care of and prevent these”.
Many countries do not yet have an academy of neurology. TheCameroonian Academy of Neurology president was also upbeat despite the common challenges mentioned. “We are also opportuned to sensitise neurology–based diseases, cure and asking for more skills”. The WHO recommends neurologist to a 100.000 population of I to 5. The only country that meets this criteria is Tunisia. Some African countries have no neurologists at all.