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Chairmans Report

PANDA CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

ALPINE HEATH RESORT – 2 NOVEMBER 2013

Dear Members

This four yearly report is actually one year late. The AGM should have been held at the SAPA conference in Polokwane in 2012, but due to the limited number of PANDA members that attended that conference it was decided that this AGM would be postponed to our weekend workshop in 2013. This is probably my last chairman’s report as I will no longer be chairman of PANDA after 17 years, give or take a year. At first I thought that this should be a super chairman’s report covering all 17 years, but that would probably have been tedious, boring and of little interest to everyone here today. So I have decided to limit this report to the past 4 years. First off all it is great to see you all at Alpine Heath for this workshop on stroke. My thanks to Tiziane Aduc and Alvin Ndondo who helped to put the programme together, to all the speakers who took part in the workshop as well as to Gail Scher and Ronald van Toorn who worked very hard behind the scenes to make this workshop a success. My thanks also to Melissa du Toit for arranging this sponsorship and to Janssen-Cilag for their generous contribution to this weekend, as well as Mandy Elliot (MMSI) who acted as conference organiser. Without all their hard work, weekends like these that appear to run seamlessly, would not have been possible.

In the past 4 years PANDA has been involved in many activities surrounding child neurology and development. In no specific order I would like to mention a few areas were PANDA played an active role to try and facilitate, solve issues and remediate in collaboration with other societies and associations to address several issues. These would include difficulties we had with registering doctors who had qualified as subspecialists, setting up an adequate service for metabolic work-ups, issues surrounding generic medications in epilepsy, the drama around “evidence base” for old and trusted medications, the EDL and the decisions that were made there, ADOS training, the inauguration of the African Child Neurology Association and its activities and expanding the reach and importance of our website. We have also collaborated with organizations such as Williams’s syndrome, Autism and muscular dystrophy. We were involved in the bid for the International Child Neurology Congress and guidelines for epilepsy, Pompie’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Gauchers. We have also been involved in the finalization of log books for subspecialisation and the Lifetime Achievement Awards, of which we will hear a little bit more later.

As far as activities were concerned, there were several weekend workshops, including metabolic conditions, neonatal neurology, epilepsy, myastenia gravis and stroke. There has been several meetings of the African Child Neurology Association in Africa, mostly engineered by Jo Wilmshurst. ACNA was launched in Cairo in March 2009 and had a meeting again in Brisbane two years later. With Jo’s and Kirsty’s involvement there has been exciting workshops on epilepsy and cerebral palsy and there is the planned workshop on autism in Ghana early next year. There was a successful ADHD workshop in Bloemfontein. We also joined the SAPA International meeting (in 2010 in Johannesburg) where several of our members gave talks. We were also involved in the Polokwane Banapele SAPA meeting in 2012 which unfortunately was not very well attended.

We have had several collaborations for conferences, the first being IACCAPAP where we collaborated in Bloemfontein in 2009, in Johannesburg 2011, the SSBP conference (2013) in Stellenbosch and the SAALED conference (2011) in Cape Town. A successful cerebral palsy workshop, in collaboration with SANDTA was also held in Bloemfontein. We were also able to have an epilepsy workshop with Olivier Dulac during the SAPA International meeting in 2010 and a further successful workshop on similar themes with Sameer Zuberi in Cape Town in October 2012.

The PANDA programme for next year includes the African Epilepsy Congress in Cape Town (20-23rd May), IACAPAP in Durban (11-15 August) and SAPA congress in Cape Town (1-0-13th September). Furthermore there is the ICNC in Brazil (4-9 May) and an ICNA/ACNA workshop on autism in Ghana first week in April. In the light of all these activities we will probably not have an opportunity to have a weekend workshop like this, but we will still make a decision regarding this.

We are an association which has set strong rhythms for all our activities which have been very well attended. So my thanks to every member who has made an effort to attend our meetings. We have made a few other decisions such as increasing annual membership fees, but then stopping the extra payments at functions. We will be far stricter about paid-up membership and enjoying the activities that PANDA has to offer. There has been the transfer of our finances from Anthony Crutchley in Durban to Ronald van Toorn to Cape Town. It is important that we now become SARS compliant and all these processes are nearly complete. My sincere thanks to both Tony Crutchley and to Ronald van Toorn for taking on this most responsible work. I have no illusions that it will not be “business as usual” financially next year and that in the near future is going to become more and more difficult to obtain third stream funds for PANDA activities, especially from PHARMA.

A decision has been made, in the light of the expansion of our website to appoint a new webmaster. To this aim David Griessel has kindly offered to take on this role. We have also decided not to make the PANDAgram available as a separate printed letter. The financial and organisational agony that this had caused Gail in order to get this letter out in time and on a regular basis has not been worth it. In future all our information, photos and summaries, journal watch etc. will be available on the website.

We have conferred some Honorary Memberships during these four years including Prof Petrus de Vries, who has taken the Paediatrics Psychiatry chair at the University of Cape Town and also Mary Rutherford who gave some excellent lectures on Neonatal Neurology during our last workshop earlier this year in Cape Town.

We are now moving ahead with a new EXCO. Enough members were nominated for their numbers and distribution to be ideal for the EXCO, so we did not go on to a full voting procedure. I did write to all the members to explain the situation and asked that if there was anyone who did not agree with my decision, that they should contact me. I was not contacted by anybody, so I take it that our new committee stands as duly elected by the PANDA membership. Before I read out their names, I would like to thank three members who are now, in a sense, retiring from the PANDA EXCO. It is with some sadness that we take leave of Dr Barbara Laughton who was a representative of the developmental paediatricians from Stellenbosch and Colleen Adnams who, during her time on the EXCO, had been appointed to a chair in the department of psychiatry. Both of these colleagues have brought great wisdom and knowledge to our meetings. I would like to thank them for everything they have done for PANDA. I know that this is not the end of our collaboration with them, they will continue to be members of PANDA and off course I hope to see them around. One person in particular that I have to thank for doing a thankless job so well during very difficult times both personally and in the association, Tony Crutchley. I cannot express my thanks enough to Tony for the outstanding work that he did as our Treasurer for many years. We will always be grateful for your absolute integrity, wisdom and meticulous administration, which certainly served us so well during difficult times. You have set the scene for all the new regulations that we have to comply with for the future. To you too I would like to give my sincere thanks.

I hope that as the past president I would be allowed to thank one other person, personally in my address, and that is Gail Scher. At one point I did not see my way clear to continue as chairman and that was when Gail was elected as secretary with the commitment that she would try and lighten my burden and make it possible for me to continue as chairman. I can sincerely say that she did not only lighten my burden but she took over a great deal of the administration of the association. She has always been supportive and loyal to a fault, but also a hard worker. People do not realise how much administration happens all year round with PANDA, addressing queries of all kinds, making arrangements for functions and double-checking all our arrangements. The toing and froing of emails would astound anyone. Personally, I would therefore like to thank Gail for being one of the most wonderful, caring and effective secretaries that any chairman could wish for. I also would like to commend Ronald who has taken over as treasurer, who stepped in without hesitation and has made wonderful contribution already to the running of the association.

My sincere thanks to the old EXCO (who virtually are all on the new EXCO) for their dedication, their hard work and sitting through very long meetings, trying to plan for our future. I am convinced that we are on the right track in most of our activities and that PANDA is now well into its late adolescence and early adulthood and is destined to survive. My thanks to each and every one on the past EXCO for their commitment, their insight and their contribution to this association. I would like to introduce the new EXCO: (in alphabetical order).

  • Dr Chirsty Donald (Secretary)
  • Dr Raj Govender
  • Dr David Griessel (Webmaster)
  • Dr Elsa Lubbe
  • Dr Verouschka Ramanjan
  • Prof John Rodda
  • Dr Gail Scher (Chairperson)
  • Dr Ronald van Toorn (Treasurer)
  • Prof Jo Wilmshurst
This committee has also made a decision that I would remain on the EXCO as immediate past-chairperson. So I am delighted that I will still be able to make a continuing contribution to PANDA in this capacity.

I wish you every success to take PANDA to even greater heights in the future and I am proud to be a member of this organization. May PANDA continue to enjoy the success and support we have in the past and keep growing and changing to stay relevant, exiting, informative, but also fun!