Call edition 2012

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Emergence of Auto-Immunity with Increasing Age in an African Elderly Population

Rose NJEMINI student laureate


°1971 Cameroon
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, University of Yaounde, Cameroon, 1994

Emergence of Auto-Immunity with Increasing Age in an African Elderly Population

In most developing countries the demographic transition has advanced considerably, resulting in an increased life expectancy. Elderly now form a greater proportion of the populations of developing societies. The demographic transition results in a change of the disease pattern of a population and is followed by an epidemiological transition. The health status of adults and elderly will increasingly become a major public health concern, also in the developing world. Information on the health status of elderly from developing countries is largely lacking. To facilitate the integration of elderly persons into the African society, to promote their health and to prevent disease, there is a pressing need to carry out research on this important group of citizens. This research is now considered a priority by the World Health Organisation.
The study of Rose Njemini formed part of an evaluation of the health status of the elderly from sub-Saharan Africa, carried out by the group of Geriatrics from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In this project several variables which influence health status and survival were studied in elderly people. Infectious and parasitic diseases have been reported to be the cause of an important proportion of deaths in the developing countries. Here, the influence was studied of malaria and filaria on auto-immunity, which can participate in the chronic medical problems of the elderly. The study also examined the lifestyle and dietary pattern, which might contribute substantially to the auto-immune phenomenon.
The study of Rose Njemini focused on research about health policy in developing regions and thus addresses the current needs brought about by the demographic transition.

report by Prof. Dr. Tony Mets, Internal medicine, Geriatrics, Academisch Ziekenhuis - Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium