Mapping Africa’s Way into Prominence in the Field of Neurology
By Mayowa O. Owolabi, MBBS, MWACP, FMCP; James H. Bower, MD; Adesola Ogunniyi, BSc, MBChB, FMCP, FWACP, FRCP; JAMA Neurology, Neurology Review December 2007
A survey on neurologic sciences was prepared in collaboration of Pan African Association of Neurologic Sciences, World Federation of Neurology and the World Health Organization (WHO) and sent to representatives of 53 African nations. The nations were divided into four categories according to the number of neurologists per nation. Group A, with more than10 Neurologists per country, included 11 nations, averaging 711,856 population per neurologist. Group B, with 5 to 10 Neurologists per country, included 5 nations, averaging 1,612,039 population per neurologist. Group C; with 1 to 4 Neurologists per country, included 23 nations, averaging 5,099,908 population per neurologist. Group D; included 12 nations with a total population of 25,939,273 that reported having no neurologists. The level of training, presence of local training programs, ancillary equipment, and practice setting options decreased progressively from Group A to Group D.
The main reason for fewer neurologists in Africa is attributed to:
- Lack of medical schools that offer neurology programs. The lack of basic neuroscience courses at the medical schools serves as an impediment to effect graduation of neurologists.
- The number of specialists in neurology is clearly lower in Africa than in other World Health Organization (WHO) regions. The median number of neurologists per 100,000 populations is extremely low in Africa; 0.03 versus 0.07 in South-East Asia, 0.32 in the Eastern Mediterranean, 0.77 in the Western Pacific, 0.89 in the Americas and 4.84 in Europe. Only 26 neurology residency training centers were documented in Africa compared with 117 in the United States.
- There were few or no neurology training programs in developing countries, the very regions of the world where they are needed most, owing to the overwhelming burden of neurologic disorders.
The African Initiatives Committee met with an agreement to increase the training of neurologists in Africa and establish closer contact with relevant medical schools.