Welcome to the

5th International Developmental Pediatrics Association (IDPA) Congress 2023


We welcome you to join us in Johannesburg South Africa for the 5th International Developmental Pediatrics Association (IDPA) Congress between 28th November to 1st December , 2023. The Congress will be co- hosted by IDPA and Pediatric Neurology and Development Association of South Africa.

The mission of IDPA is to create an international scientific platform to connect and support clinicians, researchers, and policymakers working in the field of Developmental Pediatrics and Allied Disciplines from around the world to address the inequity in how children are supported to develop to their full potential. The Congresses of IDPA are held every two years in a low or middle-income country. After Istanbul (2015), Mumbai (2017), Manila (2019), and Beirut (virtual 2021), we are privileged and proud to be hosting the first IDPA Congress live after the pandemic in Africa. 

Children have suffered during the recent global crises. Africa is projected to host 40% of the world’s children by 2050. This region carries a significant burden of risks to child development, but also an opportunity to bring insights that have the potential for global impact on child health and development. In keeping with the resilience shown by many, despite profound risks in Africa, the theme of our meeting will be “Our Children Our Future: From Vulnerability to Resilience.” 

Our Congress invites disciplines that span all aspects of service delivery and research related to child development and developmental difficulties: developmental pediatricians, pediatrics, family medicine, public health, child mental health, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, child development and education, early intervention, special education, social services, advocacy and policy. 

We are proud to offer you a programme reflecting advances in the global science, practice and policy in this exciting field and unique insights gained from all around the world. Our vision for the meeting is for a vibrant community of minds to share experiences and knowledge. 

Finally, with the words of Nelson Mandela, we invite you to the 5th IDPA Congress.

"Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future." 

We look forward to welcoming you all in 2023!

Kirsten Donald

Congress President

Mphele Mulaudzi


Ghassan Issa

IDPA President

Executive Board

Vibha Krishnamurthy

Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy, trained in Developmental Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston, founded Ummeed Child Development Center (ummeed.org) in 2001, and is currently its Executive Director. She has more than 15 years of experience in India as a developmental pediatrician, and has led the team at Ummeed in its delivery of direct services, training, advocacy and research in the field of child development and disability. She serves on expert committees related to Early Childhood Development and Disability for the WHO and Government of India.

Dr Krishnamurthy has been part of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics since 2011. She is currently a co-investigator of a project for developing a tool for monitoring child development, funded by the National Institute of Health, USA.

Her interests are in the area of service delivery, capacity building and advocacy for children with disabilities in resource poor areas.

Ilgi Ertem

Prof. Ilgi Ertem is the Founding President of the International Developmental Pediatrics Association (IDPA) and Professor of Developmental Pediatrics at Ankara University, Turkey. Her work has focused on facilitating the inclusion of the teachings and practices of developmental-behavioral pediatrics within health and other systems in Turkey and around the world.

She is an advisor to WHO and UNICEF on child development and disability. Dr. Ertem is a Zero to Three Fellow, a Fogarty International Center Women Global Health Scholar and a visiting professor at Yale University. Dr. Ertem is the recipient of large scale international research grants and the developer of the International Guide for Monitoring Child Development. She is the author of two books including the WHO published Developmental Difficulties in Early Childhood and publications in prestigious medical journals.

Alexis Reyes

Alexis Reyes is an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine andthe Section Head of Developmental Pediatrics at the Philippine General Hospital and concurrent Head of the Atty. at Jose Miguel Arroyo Developmental and Behavioral Studies Unit. She has been a section head of Developmental Pediatrics and Advisor and former Section Head of the Neurodevelopmental Section of the Child Neuroscience Center at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

Ghassan Issa

Dr. Ghassan Issa is a Lebanese medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in Paediatrics from the American University of Beirut since 1980. He is co-founder and the general coordinator of an Arab regional non-governmental organization, The Arab Resource Collective (ARC). He is director of the Arab Program for Early Childhood Development (APECD), which is one of the five programs of the Arab program for a Better Education Quality/Arab League for Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).

He is Senior Advisor of National Strategy for Early Childhood Development for the Higher Council of Childhood of the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs. He is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Development of the International Pediatric Association (IPA) and the Middle East and North Africa Health Policy Forum (MENA-HPF). As a paediatrician, Dr. Issa was active in the Lebanese Paediatrics Society as the general secretary of its board and chief editor of its periodic newsletter.

Jena Hamadani

Dr Jena Hamadani is a paediatrician and holds a PhD in child development from the Institute of Child Health under University College London. She is an international scientist at the Maternal and Child Health Division of the international centre for diarrhoeal disease research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). Jena has been a pioneer in research in early childhood development in Bangladesh.

Nenad Rudic

Dr. Nenad Rudic is a psychiatrist working in The Institute of Mental Health, Belgrade, Serbia, and he is Head of Day hospital for children with developmental disorders. During his carreer in the field of child mental health he has been continuously involved in different aspects of care for children with mental health problems and their families.

His work encompasses clinical work dedicated to assessment and treatment of developmental disorders in preschool and school children, cooperation with community health services in providing care for children with developmental risks and difficulties and research projects aimed at improvement and assessment of intervention in this field. Dr. Rudic’s main educational activity (for more than 20 years) has been in leading Course called “Mental Hygiene of Developmental Age” for the primary health care pediatric service and specialized services of Developmental Counseling Centers for children with developmental difficulties.

Mphelekedzeni Mulaudzi
South Africa

Mphelekedzeni Caroline Mulaudzi is a specialist paediatrician and adjunct professor in the Department of aediatrics and Child Heath at the University of Pretoria, Kalafong Hospital. Her areas of interest are in child health with a primary focus on child development, growth and nutrition, and anemia in children. She was a co- investigator in developing the International Guide for Monitoring and Supporting Child Development (IGMCD).

Secretarial Board

Revan Mustafa

Dr. Revan Mustafa is a developmental pediatrician who has devoted his professional career to implementation and dissemination of healthcare services related to supporting early childhood development. He is an international Guide for Monitoring Child Development (GMCD) trainer, and has supported Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan in training national GMCD trainers. He is committed to supporting regional healthcare professionals in building their skills and competencies necessary for addressing developmental difficulties. Dr. Mustafa is one of WHO and UNICEF consultants in ECD in Europe and Central Asia region, and a secretarial board member of International Developmental Pediatrics Association (IDPA).

Riddhi Mehta

Developmental Paediatric in in India, Mumbai.

Christine Mutaganzwa

Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in general Medicine and Surgery from the University of Rwanda and a Master of Sciences (MSc) in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Witwatersrand, School of Public Health in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 2014 to-date, Christine joined Partners In Health (PIH)- Rwanda where she served as the District Clinical Director for one of the 3 PIH supported districts in Rwanda, overseeing the implementation of all PIH clinical and supporting programs; serving as the liaison between program leads and the district hospital medical director and in March of 2017, Christine joined one of the Pediatric Program projects as the Pediatric Development Clinic (PDC) Director, an early intervention embedded in a medical home model intervention that provides formal long term medical, nutritional and responsive developmental follow-up care for at-high risk under-five children to insure that these children achieve adequate growth milestones, their full potential, and lead happy and productive lives.

PDC provides also families with education on early stimulation to support healthy development and interventions to address specific developmental delays. PDC serves mostly neonates discharged from the neonatal units at the district hospital where there are no specialists. PDC was initiated by the collaboration of PIH and the Rwandan Ministry of Health and UNICEF Rwanda in 2014. Christine has been involved in the implementation process of PDC materials development to training of clinicians and their mentorship. She has also been involved in grant proposals writing or reporting as well as PDC related research projects.

Jean Paul Rkabyarwema

Dr. Jean Paul Rukabyarwema is a Rwandan medical doctor, who completed his undergraduates’ studies in 2010 at National University of Rwanda, Faculty of medicine, and the only Medical school in the country at the time of his training. As medical student in undergraduate studies, Dr. Jean Paul Rukabyarwema has developed leadership skills, where he served as General Secretary of Medical student association of Rwanda (MEDSAR).

Dr. Jean Paul was involved in several grants applications and was involved in several medical students’ projects including: Mental health empowerment project, Gender empowerment group, Fight against malnutrition project. In the same interest to learn new things, during his undergraduate studies he did a one month exchange observer ship rotation at Dandrid hospital, Karolinska institute, Sweden.

After 3 years of practicing general medicine; Dr. Jean Paul underwent four year training as pediatric resident, under human resource in health for Rwanda, project where several universities of USA sent expert to train Rwandan specialists in different medical fields, and he is now holder of masters of medicine in pediatrics. During this pediatrics training, Dr. Jean Paul Rukabyarwema, developed strong interest in developmental and behavioral pediatrics, and he is committed to see children with developmental and behavioral problems and children with special needs in general being early detected and given appropriate, multidisciplinary and Family centered care.

Marcio Leyser

Dr.Leyser is a Developmental Pediatrician from Brazil who trained as a clinical fellow in Developmental Pediatrics at McMaster University in Canada. He also has a master and a PhD degrees in Neurology and Neurological Sciences taken at the Federal Fluminense University in Brazil. Dr.Leyser is currently the secretary of the scientific department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Brazilian Pediatric Society. Dr.Leyser has been working over the last fifteen years with children and families with complex developmental disorders in a renowned, evidence-based, family-centered Brazilian network of neurorehabilitation hospitals and clinics. He has been involved in projects and publishing articles in relevant scientific journals on themes such as developmental and neurological disorders related to congenital infections, genetic/metabolic syndromes and neuromotor conditions.

Renato Santos Coelho

Renato Santos Coelho is on the Secretarial Board of IDPA. He is also the President of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Committee. He has a Master Degree in Health Science, Universidade Federal Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre/RS/Brazil. He focuses on being a Staff Pediatrician in the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Section.

Ma. Rochelle Buenavista-Pacifico

Dr. Pacifico is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician. She is a Full professor in the College of Medicine, De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute, a consultant/clinician and Chair for Hospital Services of the Department of Pediatrics in the De La Salle University Medical Center in Cavite, Philippines. Also active in training and mentoring fellows at the Brother Miguel Febres Cordero Neurodevelopmental Center, she continues to involve herself in research and advocacies in the promotion of child development and behavior in Filipino children, collaborating with local government units in various community programs involving children and adolescents with special needs.

Dr. Pacifico is a Founding Fellow of the Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and served as president of the society in 2017 and 2018. She is also a Fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Association and a member of the International Developmental Pediatric Association (IDPA) Secretarial Board.

Koyeli Sengupta

Koyeli Sengupta is a developmental pediatrician with a post-graduate degree in Pediatric medicine and Clinical Psychology. She is the Director of Autism Intervention Services at Ummeed, a premier not for profit organization in Mumbai, India,much respected for its work in the field of children with disabilities.

Koyeli has been instrumental in growing Ummeed’s autism services into a range of clinical services that cater to a range of autism related difficulties across childhood and adolescence. Under her leadership, Ummeed’s autism intervention team has also conceptualized and implemented training programs to build capacity in the community to provide evidence-based, child-directed, family-centered and comprehensive autism care to children and families. In 2016, she led the development and implementation of AITP (Autism Intervention Training Program) – a one of its kind training program in India for professionals working with children with autism.

Roopa Srinivasan

Dr Roopa Srinivasan, has over 17 years of experience as a practicing Developmental Paediatrician. She heads the Clinical Services at Ummeed Child Development Centre, a leading Not for Profit Organization that works in the space of child development and disabilities in India. She is the Coordinator of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics Accredited Fellowship Program in Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics at Ummeed. She was part of the international research team that was involved in the standardization and validation of the Guide for Monitoring Child Development in four Low- and Middle-Income Countries. She is currently part of an NIH funded international project on implementation of the GMCD in rural India and Guatemala. Her current work focusses on implementation of Family Centred Service Delivery Models and Participation Focussed Intervention Approaches in low resource settings.

Ezgi Özalp Akin

Ezgi Özalp Akın is an associate professor at Ankara University Developmental Pediatrics Division, Turkey and a member of International Developmental Pediatrics Association (IDPA) Secretarial Board. She works for the education of medical doctors and pediatricians in developmental pediatrics and using International Guide for Monitoring Child Development, and advocacy for children with developmental difficulties and their families. Her research interests are related to the use of International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health Framework to assess and support children with developmental difficulties and their families.

Kirsty Donald
South Africa

Prof Kirsty Donald is Deputy Director of the UCT Neuroscience Institute and for the last 15 years has headed up the Division of Developmental Paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital.

Scientifically, she has contributed to our understanding of both phenotypic variability and genetic variation in developmental conditions in the African region.

Internationally, she has served on the UNICEF expert panel for global standard-setting in early childhood development and is a member of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Mental Health, Brain Health and Substance Use.

Paying forward, Prof Donald has a deep commitment to training and expanding expertise in African neuroscience. Currently, she also leads a large, internationally funded research and capacity development portfolio in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Neuroscience Institute.

Local Committee

Kirsty Donald
South Africa
Jacqui Bezuidenhout
South Africa

Dr Bezuidenhout is a Paediatric Developmental specialist with a special interest in Autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, Cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment.  She is currently based at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) and is a senior consultant working in the Neurodevelopmental clinic.

Dr Bezuidenhout is a senior lecturer for the University of Witwatersrand and is the MSc Neurodevelopment co-ordinator as well as a co-coordinator for the MSc Child life and psychosocial care.

She is passionate about furthering education and advocacy for children with disabilities and is the secretary for the Global Professional Education Committee for the International Alliance of Academies of Childhood disability (IAACD) and is a reviewer for the ‘Knowledge Hub’. She is also the treasurer for SA-ChilD and is a board member of the Children’s Memorial Institute (CMI) and currently heads up the PR and History subcommittee.

Gail Scher
South Africa

Professor Gail Scher is a paediatric neurologist with a special interest in epilepsy, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders and central nervous system infections. She is attached to Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre and the University of the Witwatersrand. She enjoys teaching and has lectured on multiple Paediatric Epilepsy Training (PET1) courses and on the Paediatric Neurology component of the MSc Neurodevelopment Current positons: Chairperson of PANDA-SA (Paediatric Neurology and Development
Association of Southern Africa), Chairperson of Epilepsy Society of South Africa (ILAE-SA chapter).

Board member and immediate past-secretary of ACNA (African Child Neurology Association), International Child Neurology Association (ICNA) Nominations committee Chair ICNC2024 local hosting committee

Heather Thomson
South Africa

Dr Heather Thomson is a Developmental Paediatrician at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic
Hospital and the Divisional Head of Developmental Paediatrics at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a full-time clinician in an academic teaching hospital, with both under-graduate and post-graduate training programmes. She is passionate about training and expanding expertise in Developmental Paediatrics. Her special interests include Cerebral Visual impairment, Cerebral palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Learning Disabilities. She has served as a founding EXCO member of the Southern African Academy of Childhood Disability and was a member of the IAACD COVID task force in 2020. She is SGB member of Johannesburg Hospital School.

Ute Feucht
South Africa

Professor Feucht is working as the Paediatrician in the Tshwane District Clinical Specialist Team in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. She is a registered Community Paediatrics sub-specialist. She also holds a joint appointment as a full professor at the Department of Paediatrics of the University of Pretoria, and additionally is the Director of the Research Centre for Maternal, Fetal, Newborn and Child Health Care Strategies of the University of Pretoria.

Wiedaad Slemming
South Africa

Professor Wiedaad Slemming is an experienced health professional, academic and researcher, with over 20 years of experience working in a variety of settings in South Africa, England, and Wales. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health and serves as the Director of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town.

Professor Slemming’s areas of expertise and research are maternal and child health, early childhood development (ECD), child disability and health systems strengthening. She has extensive research experience spanning these areas and has contributed to the development of programmes and policies, strategies, and implementation plans and tools.

She also currently also serves on several international and national maternal and child health, nutrition, ECD and disability technical and advisory groups.

Chantell Witten
South Africa

Infant and Young Child Feeding Advocacy Project at the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Food Security, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC)

Dr Chantell Witten is a researcher and Lead for the Infant and Young Child Feeding Advocacy Project at the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Food Security, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Chantell is a dietitian with more than 20 years’ food and nutrition experience, across several sectors from academia, NGO and UN agencies. Before returning to academia, Chantell was the Nutrition Specialist for UNICEF/South Africa. A highlight of her term at UNICEF, was the gazetting of the Regulations Relating to Foodstuff for Infants and Young Child Feeding.  A legal instrument that controls the marketing of any foodstuff that undermines breastfeeding.

While some progress has been made towards improving breastfeeding rates in South Africa, much still needs to be done to counteract the negative impact of increasing consumption of commercial formula milk.

Linda Richter
South Africa

Linda Richter (PhD) is a Distinguished Professor in the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

She has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard (USA), Melbourne (Aus) and Oxford (UK) Universities. From 2010-2012 she served as Advisor on Vulnerable Children at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva.

Linda is one of the original investigators and currently the co-Principal Investigator of the South African birth cohort study, Birth to Thirty (Bt30). She led the research and drafting of South Africa’s Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, adopted by Cabinet in 2015, and the 2017 Lancet Series Advancing Early Child Development: From Science to Scale.

Linda currently leads the ECD Countdown to 2030 and the UKRI-funded project Harnessing Global Data to Advance Young Children’s Learning and Development.

Linda has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and was the recipient of the Medical Research Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and of the National Research Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. She is a twice A-rated NRF scientist.

Sashmi Moodley
South Africa

Dr. Sashmi Moodley is a humanitarian. She is committed to the clinical care for children within the health sector of South Africa for over 17 years. She holds a master’s degree in Paediatrics as well as in Child Development and works as a paediatrician and sub-specialist in neurodevelopment at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Her role as a senior lecturer and examiner within the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at University of Cape Town has led to a growing interest in translational research. Her questions aim to include the voices of parents of children with developmental disabilities whilst understanding the intricacies between caregiver resilience and family quality of life, particularly in resource poor settings.

Dr. Moodley actively partners with organistions that drive advocacy for children with rare diseases and neurodevelopmental conditions. She has the honour of working with the secretarial board of the International Developmental Paediatrics Association and has led the co-ordination of the 5th IDPA Congress in Africa.

Verushka Ramanjam
South Africa

Dr Ramanjam is a Neuro-Developmental Paediatrician working at 2 Military Hospital and Red Cross
Children’s Hospital and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is a full-time clinician and,
under-graduate and post-graduate teacher who manages a range of Neurological and
Developmental Disorders including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Epilepsy, Learning Disability,
Genetic Disorders, and many others. Dr Ramanjam is one of the founding members of the multi-
disciplinary Neurofibromatosis Clinic at Red Cross War Memorial Hospital in 2003, where she has
focussed her research. She is an executive member of the Paediatric Neurology and Developmental
Association of South Africa (PANDA) and is on the scientific programme committee of the 5th
International Developmental Paediatrics Association Congress (IDPA) as well as the International
Child Neurology Conference (ICNC) 2024. She also serves on the board (past chair) of the Rachel
Swart Fund for more than 16-years. This a non-governmental organisation that provides motorised
wheelchairs and other assistive devices to people with disabilities in Southern Africa

Sibongile Mbatha
South Africa

Dr Sibongile Mbatha graduated in 2005 from the University of the Witwatersrand with a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery. Specialising in paediatrics, she earned a Diploma in Child Health in 2008 and received my Paediatrics fellowship in 2013, honoured with the Avroy-Fanaroff prize during her registrar training. Now heading developmental services at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. Dr Mbatha became a qualified developmental paediatrician in 2019. Actively involved in research, she has authoured a publication and presently co-authoring four others.  She received the Safeline Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Neonatology award in 2019. In addition to teaching, supervising MMED students, and co-ordinating registrar activities, I am committed to community outreach, often sharing insights on developmental conditions through radio interviews. My future goal is to expand the developmental paediatrics department. Beyond work, she is a proud wife and mother to two wonderful boys.

Mphelekedzeni Mulaudzi
South Africa

Mphelekedzeni Caroline Mulaudzi is a specialist paediatrician and adjunct professor in the Department of aediatrics and Child Heath at the University of Pretoria, Kalafong Hospital. Her areas of interest are in child health with a primary focus on child development, growth and nutrition, and anemia in children. She was a co- investigator in developing the International Guide for Monitoring and Supporting Child Development (IGMCD).