In 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations acknowledged that “the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases constitutes one of the major challenges for development in the 21st century.” Non-communicable diseases, also referred to as chronic disease, are long lasting, require medical management and typically cannot be entirely cured. According to the World Health Organization, these conditions are responsible for 31 million deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
The research project of James H. Bower, M.D., professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic and director of Mayo Clinic Abroad, focuses on the burden of neurological disease in sub-Saharan Africa, where little is known about prevalence of these non-communicable diseases or their risk factors. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a sustainable research infrastructure on neurologic disease in Ethiopia so that Ethiopian physicians and scientists can identify the evolving burden of neurologic disorders, and reduce this burden through risk factor reduction and cost-effective treatment.
To reach this long-term objective, Dr. Bower and his Ethiopian colleagues will begin by studying the prevalence of neurologic disorders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We believe urban sites in Ethiopia have unique risk factors increasing prevalence of diseases, including stroke, which is one of the most common types of non-communicable diseases.
The contribution from this project will be significant because it acts as a critical first step in allowing Ethiopian scientists to address the unique neurologic public health issues across their country, and predict evolving neurologic burden as their country develops.