Dr. James C. Johnston recently attended the 70th American Academy of Neurology meeting in Los Angeles, California.
Over 13,000 neurologists and other medical professionals attended the annual meeting, coming from over 100 countries. There were seven plenary sessions, 240 educational programs and over 3,000 scientific abstracts.
Dr. Johnston and one of his Ethiopian colleagues, neurologist Dr. Mehila Zebenigus, presented an abstract entitled The Spectrum of Neurological Disorders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.15263.25769).
This study was prompted by the fact that neurological disorders constitute a significant portion of the global burden of disease, and are rapidly increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, yet the paucity of data on neurological disease patterns in this region precludes effective allocation of the limited available resources.
The study incorporated all new patients referred to a neurology clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over a continuous twelve month period. Board certified neurologists diagnosed and treated each patient after performing a history, examination and any necessary testing including laboratory, neurodiagnostic or neuroimaging studies. A total of 4,195 patients were evaluated, with a mean age of 41.3 years and sex ratio of 106.9.
The most common conditions were musculoskeletal disorders (33.6%), predominantly degenerative spine disease (28.5%). The most common neurological conditions were nerve, root and plexus disorders (15.4%), epilepsy (11.7%), headache (11.1%), cerebrovascular disease (8.4%), generalized neuropathies (6%), movement disorders (3.3%) and neurodegenerative diseases (2.7%). Brain or spine tumors and psychiatric disorders were less common at 1.2 and 2.2% respectively.
This was the first report of disease patterns at a private outpatient neurology clinic in Ethiopia. It demonstrated that degenerative spine disease with or without radiculopathy, entrapment neuropathies and episodic disorders (epilepsy, headache, cerebrovascular disease) comprise the vast majority of conditions.
More importantly, these common conditions are effectively treated within this resource limited setting, underscoring the importance of allocating resources to train more neurologists in developing nations. Drs. Johnston and Zebenigus have emphasized this approach through the non-profit organization Global NeuroCare®. (www.GlobalNeuroCare.org).