Postcard from Burkina FasoThere are only 5 neurologists in Burkina Faso.  But that doesn’t stop Athanase Millogo MD from making a difference for people with ALS beyond his nation’s borders. Photo courtesy of Athanase Millogo MD.  All rights reserved.

With the opening of dozens of specialized ALS clinics and the establishment of multipractice care programs, nearly 1 out of every 5 people with ALS in the US now lives at least 5 years after being diagnosed with the disease.  And, nearly 1 out of 10 survives more than a decade.

But in Africa, ALS is instead a neglected non-communicable disease.  Few general practitioners recognize motor neuron disorders.  And, most people cling to traditional healing practices resulting in treatments being prescribed according to a recent analysis as much as 4.5 years after the first signs of the disease.

A group of neurologists, called TROPALS, however is determined to turn things around for people with ALS in Africa.  The team has launched an unprecedented multicenter longitudinal study to describe ALS in Africa.  And, at the same time identify key challenges facing these populations in hopes to ultimately to develop interventions to improve their quality of life.

“We are working for the patients,” explains Athanase Millogo MD, head of the Department of Medicine, Bobo-Dialousso Teaching Hospital in Burkina Faso. “We are not sitting in our offices making computations.  We hope to improve the outcome of people with the disease.”


Marin, B. et al. (2012) Juvenile and adult-onset ALS/MND among Africans: incidence, phenotype, survival: a review. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 13(3), 276-283.  AbstractFull Text  (Subscription Required)

Researcher Resources

Etude Epidémiologique de la Sclérose Latérale Amyotrophique sous les Tropiques (TROPALS) Email | Website

Study of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Under the Tropics (TROPALS) Email | Website