About conference

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is a damage or trauma to the spinal cord that results in a loss or impaired function causing reduced mobility or feeling. Common causes of damage are:

- trauma (car accident, gunshot, falls, sports injuries, etc.) 
- disease (Transverse Myelitis, Polio, Spina Bifida, Friedreich's Ataxia, etc.).

The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of function to occur. In most people with SCI, the spinal cord is intact, but the cellular damage to it results in loss of functioning. Sr. Ludwig Guttman (1899 – 1980) pioneer and originator of modern multidisciplinary spinal cord care had described spinal cord injury as one of the greater calamities that can befall humans. Where do we stand today anno 2013?

On December 3, 2013 World Health Organization has launched their report 'International perspective on spinal cord injury'. As many as 500.000 people around the world suffer a spinal cord injury each year.

People with spinal cord injuries are 2 to 5 times more likely to die prematurely, with worse survival rates in low- and middle-income countries.

Spinal cord injury is a medically and life-disrupting condition. However, with the right policy responses, as demonstrated in the report, it is possible to live, thrive and contribute with SCI anywhere in the world. People with SCI are people with disabilities and are entitled to the same human rights and respect as all other people with disabilities. Once their immediate health needs have been met, social and environmental barriers are the main obstacles to successful functioning and inclusion for people with SCI. Ensuring that health services, education, transport and employment are available and accessible to people with SCI, alongside other people with disabilities, can make the difference between failure and success. SCI will always be life changing, but it need not be a tragedy and it need not be a burden.

Link to report: WHO report



Firstly with this conference Fundashon Alton Paas will bring together doctors and practitioners from 3 continents – USA, Europe and Latin America and from the Caribbean islands such as Bonaire, Jamaica and also our local experts – to share their expertise around 10 topics about spinal cord injury. Dr Oswald Steward, the founding director of the Reeve-Irvine Research centre will be our distinguished keynote speaker and he will address a topic about cure. Within this group we have two speakers who have spinal cord injury – one is a doctor and Ambassador for the Christopher (Superman) and Dana Reeve Foundation and the other is a businessman and board member of the Association for Spinal Cord Injury Organization Netherlands who can speak directly from their experience.


Secondly Fundashon Alton Paas will expose Curaçao as the Caribbean conference destination where other islands in the Caribbean can come together to raise the quality and standard care of spinal cord injury for the benefit and quality of life of people with spinal cord injury in the Caribbean.


In accordance with the WHO report spinal cord injury is preventable and survivable. Spinal cord injury can be turned from a threat to an opportunity. Fundashon Alton Paas with the contribution of these experts and third parties will make the first step to help turn spinal cord injury from threat to opportunity for the whole Caribbean.