AANS at the Congress of South Africa
The second annual Continental Association of African Neurosurgical Societies (CAANS) Congress took place in Cape Town, South Africa, from Sept. 25-29, 2016. It was held in conjunction with the 25th Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa (SNSA) Scientific Meeting at the Century City Conference Center & Hotel.
According to the president of CAANS, Graham Fieggen, MD, IFAANS, “There are few better opportunities to celebrate this common humanity than coming together as a community at the time of an international congress. We do so in the spirit of Ubuntu, the philosophy that shapes the lives, thoughts and deeds of millions of Africans (3).” Ubuntu is a belief that there is a universal bond that connects all of humanity.
The CAANS Congress was ushered in with a presentation from Nelson Oyesiku, MD, PhD, FAANS, who completed medical school in his home country of Nigeria and is now a neurosurgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. His presentation was titled “The African Lions: A Blueprint for the Rise of Africa” that explained the advances in various countries in Africa.
Neurosurgeons from many countries in Africa as well as from around the world were in attendance, including faculty from 26 countries, with large showings from South Africa and the U.S. Also, the presence of young neurosurgeons from the region was notable. Prior to the meeting, Congress organizers made special arrangements to ensure young neurosurgeons received the resources to attend the meeting by awarding 50 travel scholarships.
In addition to presenting their research, AANS leaders, including Frederick A. Boop, MD, FAANS, and Christopher M. Loftus, MD, FAANS, had the opportunity to interact with the young neurosurgeons who attended the “Planning Your Career in Neurosurgery” session. Along with Yong-Kwang Tu, MD, PhD, president of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS), they shared important advice with attendees on the threshold of their careers, the educational resources the AANS provides to international members and the importance of developing professionally and practicing surgical skills, even as technological advances seemingly make certain techniques obsolete.
Currently, the AANS is supporting the development of young neurosurgeons through its International Visiting Surgeon Fellowship, which provides funds for two observational fellowships at programs in North America for neurosurgeons from developing countries. Although not limited to the African continent, in recent years, the program has supported three fellows from the region; Mugisha Clement Mazoko, MD, from Tanzania in 2015, and, in 2016, both Claire Karekezi, MD, from Rwanda; and Jude-Kennedy Chinedu Emejulu, MD, from Nigeria. The hope is that these leaders will apply their experiences and knowledge to train young neurosurgeons in their home countries.
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