The Built Environment & Brain Health

Date: Tuesday, 23 July 2024
Time: 4pm (Johannesburg, GMT+2) | 5pm (Nairobi, GMT+3) | 2pm (Accra, GMT)
Duration: 75 – 90 minutes (Online, Zoom)

A healthy brain is essential for optimal cognitive, emotional and behavioural function. Brain Health includes health promotion, strategies to reduce the risk of illness and improve management, the development of brain skills and brain capital. It is an exciting field with the potential to help many people. 

The environment we live in is often neglected in discussions and approaches to support health and yet it is essential. The environment we live can be designed to support healthier living, community engagement, and to support people living with illnesses such as dementia


Welcome: Prof. Andre Mochan
Chair: Kirti Ranchod
Panel Discussion

Fiona Walsh

Meeting Coordinator: Wambui Karanja

Time: 4pm ( South Africa, CAT, GMT+2)


Fiona Walsh
FIONA WALSH B.Arch FRIAI, RIBA ARB is a practicing chartered architect and a specialist design consultant designing spaces for cognitive and sensory accessibility and inclusion. She holds two fellowships, one in architecture, Fellow Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, and one in brain health, Fellow Global Brain Health Institute based at Trinity College Dublin and UCSF in San Francisco. Her work, research and personal experience has brought her to the forefront of the field of inclusive design. 

She is challenging the accepted norms for accessibility and pushing for new design guidance, legislation and standards for inclusive access. Her most recent research and work looks at the importance of optimising the Cognitive Loadof the built environment- assessing design elements that support understanding and elements that add unnecessary complexity. Cognitive overload can cause a person to be overwhelmed and find an environment challenging. Her designs and expertise optimise any space to improve the user experience, support better living and inclusive accessibility whilst supporting functional and cognitive abilities.

Fiona has published in the Lancet Neurology: ‘Better Buildings for Elderly People to Thrive’ and the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: ‘Late Life Brain Health Architecture’. She has written inclusive design audit reports and inclusive design community guides for the National Dementia Office, Age Friendly Ireland, Healthy Ireland and Health Service Executive and blogs on inclusive design for Alzheimer’s Disease International.

She is an international speaker and lecturer on inclusive design and dedicates much of her time to advocacy work and disseminating knowledge, creating awareness of the importance of design in supporting autonomy, dignity and independence whilst supporting functional and cognitive abilities. She recently was a keynote speaker at an inclusive design forum at UCD, Dublin on ‘Inclusion for all’ and at an international conference on ‘Brain Health and Housing’ in Dublin.

Prof. Andre Mochan

Prof. Andre Mochan is an Associate Professor in the Division of Neurology, the Clinical Head of Neurology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital since 2009 and the Academic Head of Neurology in the Department of Neurosciences in the School of Clinical Medicine. He is the current Secretary of the College of Neurology and recent office bearer of the Neurology Association of South Africa (NASA).

In 2014 he established a dedicated multidisciplinary Motor Neuron Disease / Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MND/ALS) Clinic at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Through the MND/ALS clinic he participates in the drive for genomic research on African ALS patients and is Co-Principal Investigator of the newly launched ALS-Africa NET study employing cutting edge WGS techniques, performed locally, to characterise uncharted genes in ALS. He also is the initiator and Principal Investigator of the South African Neurology COVID-19 database.

Dr. Kirti Ranchod

Dr. Kirti Ranchod is a neurologist from South Africa, Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, co-founder and chair of the Africa Brain Health Network and has served on the board of Alzheimer’s South Africa. She has extensive clinical experience in medicine and neurology. Kirti founded Memorability to make brain health tools accessible, practical and effective including online and in person courses, talks ,and workshops. She runs a series of talks on “Investing in Our Cultural Capital for Better Brain Health’ at the Origins Centre, University of Witwatersrand. She completed a project with REMI East Africa in Uganda to support healthcare workers with practical mental health tools and has run several corporate brain health workshops. Interests include the role of traditional practices and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in promoting health, the neuroscience of art, and understanding the different perceptions of memory.

Wambui Karanja

Wambui Karanja is a psychologist and independent consultant who works in research, advocacy, and caregiving of people with dementia in various African settings. Wambui coordinate the Africa Brain Health Network, an organization that aims to promote awareness of brain health across the lifespan in Africa and beyond. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kenyatta University, was a graduate attaché at the British Institute in Eastern Africa and researched perceptions of cognitive decline and dementia among informal caregivers. She is an alumnus of Young African Leadership Initiative, (YALI) East Africa, and a global Atlantic fellow for Equity in Brain Health.

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