North American Regional Caribbean Congress
Clinicians from the English speaking Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe gather at the First North American Regional Caribbean Congress of Epilepsy, which took place in Montego Bay, Jamaica from May 30 - 31, 2008. The event was a truly collaborative endeavor involving the North American Regional (NAR) Commission of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), the Jamaican League Against Epilepsy (JLAE), the Jamaican Epilepsy Association (JEA), the American Epilepsy Society (AES), and the Canadian League Against Epilepsy (CLAE), as well as the international corporations Novartis and Bank of Nova Scotia.
Under the leadership of Dr. Amza Ali (President of the JLAE, NAR Commission Member) and Dr. Robert Fisher (NAR Commission Member), co-chairs of the congress, this inaugural and well attended event marks a new chapter in the development of academic activities focusing on epilepsy in the English speaking Caribbean region.
The high profile of the congress was evident by the participation of regional dignitaries and of regional international speakers. During the official opening ceremony, the Honourable Rudyard Spencer, Minister of Health of Jamaica, eloquently acknowledged the difficulties and stigma facing persons with epilepsy, and pledged his commitment to work with the JLAE and JEA to improve the care and quality of life of people with epilepsy in Jamaica. Professor Peter Wolf, President of the ILAE, gave the opening address in which he emphasized the significance of this academic event, and acknowledged the effort of organizers and contributors in bringing the congress to fruition.
Although inclement weather impeded the attendance of two of the regional speakers, both were able to give their presentations via tele-cast. International speakers included Drs. Robert Fisher (USA), Dennis Spencer (USA, President of the AES), Martin Brodie (UK, ILAE Treasurer), Jeffrey Nobles (USA), William Theodore (USA), Kimford Meador (USA), Eugene Ramsay (USA), Basim Uthman (USA), David Clarke (USA-Jamaica), Franz Chaves Sell (Costa Rica), and Samuel Wiebe (Canada, chair of North American Commission of ILAE). These speakers covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from basic clinical principles through medical surgical management, to cutting edge genetic concepts.
Regional speakers and session chairs included Drs. Amza Ali (Jamaica, President of JLAE), Colin McKenzie (University of the West Indies), Hafeezul Mohammed (President of the Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica), Professor Robert Gray (University of the West Indies), Judy Tapper (Jamaica), Rainford Wilks (Jamaica), David Corbin (Barbados), Sean Marquez (Barbados), Roberto Rico (Curacao) and Neil Cruz (US Virgin Islands). Speakers in these sessions provided insightful descriptions of their work in the epidemiological, medical and psychosocial aspects of epilepsy in the Caribbean region. The sessions culminated in lively question and answer periods which engaged a keen audience and extended in the evening.
The success of the First North American Regional Caribbean Congress of Epilepsy allows us to envisage an era of new initiatives and collaborations that will lead to better care and quality of life of patients with epilepsy in this region.
View Photos at the First North American Regional Caribbean Congress of Epilepsy