The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is proud to announce the establishment of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Africa. The RAC for Africa members comprises: Professor Leith Zakraoui (Tunisia, Chair), Dr Motare Henry Efamba Nongo (Cameroon), Ms. Tereza Hough (South Africa), Professor Yasser El Miedany (Egypt), Professor Ngozi Rosemary Njeze (Nigeria, Deputy Chair), and Dr Tobias de Villiers (South Africa).
As with the IOF Regional Advisory Councils for the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America regions, the primary mission of the RAC Africa is to support the capacity of IOF member societies to develop programmes and policies targeted to the specific needs of the region. In addition to its role in consolidating and supporting the Committee of National Societies priorities for the region, the new RAC Africa will also act as the link between the region and IOF headquarters.
The IOF Board of Governance took the decision to establish a dedicated Regional Advisory Council for the continent in order to better represent the growing number of members from the region and the important work they carry out. Africa was previously represented within a single RAC for Middle East & Africa. The establishment of separate regional representation for Africa reflects the IOF’s Board desire to progressively adapt its regional structure into six designated regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, North America, Middle East, and Africa. The changes in regional representation have taken effect as of 2022 for the IOF Regional Advisory Councils and CNS and will be reflected in the Board structure following the next Board elections in 2024.
IOF President Cyrus Cooper stated:
“As a continent, Africa is experiencing a demographic shift in population ageing as well as increasing sedentary and urban lifestyles, which have enormous implications for musculoskeletal health. There is an evident need for preventive action and greater awareness of bone and muscle disorders among the public, health professionals, and policymakers. This need for action has also been reflected in the increasing number of African patient- and medical- societies within the IOF network.”
“We extend our great appreciation to all the members of this new Council for their commitment and valued efforts on behalf of the IOF member societies in the African region. We also warmly congratulate Professor Leith Zakraoui and Professor Ngozi Rosemary Njeze on their elections to the respective positions of RAC Chair and Deputy Chair.”
About the Regional Advisory Council Chair and Deputy Chair
Professor Leith Zakraoui is a professor at the University of Tunis School of Medicine. He has been a member of the IOF Board since 2012 and is a member of IOF’s Committee of Scientific Advisors. He has over thirty years of experience in the fields of rheumatology and osteoporosis, and has held numerous academic and hospital positions, including in the USA. He was Director of the Dept. of Medicine at the University of Tunis School of Medicine (1999-2002), and Head of the Dept. of Rheumatology at Mongi Slim Hospital in La Marsa, Tunisia (1994-2016), among other positions. He has been President of the Tunisian Osteoporosis Prevention Society (TOPS) since 2000 and has also been President of the Pan-Arab Osteoporosis Society (2002-2005), President of the Tunisian League Against Rheumatism (1995-1997), and General Secretary of the African League of Associations of Rheumatologists (1995-1999), among other positions. He is on the editorial boards of ‘Revue de Rhumatisme’ and ‘Tunisie Médicale’. Prof. Zakraoui is dedicated to increasing awareness of musculoskeletal disease as a major health problem, including among healthcare professionals and decision-makers on the African continent. Prof. Zakraoui was previously engaged with the Regional Advisory Council for Middle East & Africa.
Professor Ngozi Rosemary Njeze is a Senior Lecturer at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria and a Consultant Radiologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu. She is a Fellow and an Examiner of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and also participates in several of the University’s committees such as the University of Nigeria Examiners’ Board and the University Games Local Organizing Committee. Prof. Njeze’s mentorship and training of medical students and resident doctors reflects her keen interest in students’ welfare and human development and she continues to inspire members of the University of Nigeria Medical School with vision and direction (one of her mentees went on to win the young investigator’s award at the 2020 WCO-IOF-ESCEO annual Congress). She is also the author of a handbook entitled “Osteoporosis - A Friend or a Silent Killer” to further spread knowledge and awareness of Osteoporosis in her country. She was awarded the 2021 IOF Committee of National Societies Medal, for her dedication to raising awareness of bone health and osteoporosis prevention in Africa’s most populous country. Prof. Njeze is the founder and Chair of the Foundation for Awareness of Osteoporosis, and the society’s representative for the IOF. The society organises workshops on osteoporosis, as well as radio and television talks on osteoporosis to reach out to new audiences, to provide education and raise awareness of bone health and osteoporosis.