Legacy of Abu Dhabi Improves Health in Africa

More than 150 athletes have received this specialized health screening, and some referred for follow up consultations, from a dozen certified MedFest clinical directors. These events have so far reached the borders of:

  • Special Olympics Burundi,
  • Special Olympics Congo,
  • Special Olympics Guinea-Bissau,
  • Special Olympics Equatorial Guinea,
  • Special Olympics Madagascar,
  • Special Olympics Mozambique,
  • and Special Olympics Niger.

Special Olympics MedFest was created to offer the physical exam that all athletes need prior to participating in Special Olympics sports programming. Led by volunteer physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medical students, the MedFest screening consists of the following stations: medical history, height and weight, blood pressure, cardiology test, musculoskeletal test, orthopedic tests, abdominal evaluation, and a check out station.

These new Programs were founded thanks to the support of the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 14 new Founding Committees in Africa Region were among the 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches participating.

Miguel Sampaio, Chairperson of Special Olympics Guine-Bissau speaks to the media in order to change attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities at the first ever MedFest screening event held in Bissau, 27 November 2019.

Their first ever medical appointment

Special Olympics Guinea-Bissau shared that the country has very few medical professionals available in-country. At their first MedFest screening, in most of the cases, athletes had never had a medical appointment before in their lives. This was made possible by a new partnership with AIDA and AMEV — a voluntary medical professional association.

Special Olympics Madagascar reaches their first athletes in a center for autism in Antanarivo.

It is sometimes the first exposure these athletes have to medical care. In many cases, life-threatening conditions have been found and subsequently treated thanks to MedFest.

More to come in other countries in Africa

MedFest certified clinical directors will become active soon in Special Olympics Cape Verde, Special Olympics Chad, Special Olympics Guinea and Special Olympics Liberia.

The next countries to see events taking place will be:

  • Special Olympics Ethiopia,
  • Special Olympics South Sudan
  • and Special Olympics Lesotho.



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Special Olympics Africa Region

Special Olympics Africa Region


Revealing the champion inside all of us, every day around the world and in Africa! Sports and health programming for people with intellectual disabilities.