About Us

Our Story

Rheumatology for All was founded in 2016 after Drs. Meltzer and Hitchon, Colmegna and Scucimari returned from a visit to a rheumatology clinic at Tikur Anbessa Hospital in Addis Ababa. The clinic was managed by Yewondwossen Tadesse Mengistu, MD., a nephrologist, and medical residents who were doing their best to provide rheumatology care in their community. Inspired by the compassion and professionalism they saw there, the members of Rheumatology for All understood that providing rheumatology services in underserved areas depended on training motivated local physicians to become rheumatologists.  While in Africa they forged relationships and met incredible young physicians who were eager to become rheumatologists.

The Board of Rheumatology for All consists of five members.  (More detailed bios follow.)

  1. Michele Meltzer, MD is the president of RFA. She oversaw the development of the RFA’s articles of incorporation as a non –profit organization and the development of Bylaws. She has also been instrumental as a fundraiser and board convener. The board meets in person once a year, and via Skype two to three times a year to facilitate collaboration on relevant projects. Dr. Meltzer also initiates frequent email discussions.
  2. Carol Hitchon, MD is RFA’s treasurer. Dr. Hitchon has conducted numerous clinical research studies and was the principle investigator on a grant from International League of Associations of Rheumatology (ILAR), obtained before RFA was incorporated.
  3. Yewondwossen Tadesse Mengistu, MD is RFA’s secretary. He runs the rheumatology clinic in Addis Abbaba and is instrumental as the man on the ground in Addis. A nephrologist by education, Dr. Yewondwossen received training in Durban, South Africa.
  4. Professor Girish Mody, is a board member of RFA. He is the head of the rheumatology program in Durban, South Africa and was instrumental in securing positions for RFA’s two Ethiopian scholars to go to South Africa for training. He has been president of the African League of Rheumatology and was recently named a Master of Rheumatology by the American College of Rheumatology.
  5. Robert Moots, MD, PhD has worked tirelessly to enhance access to rheumatology care in developing countries by education and research and has trained and mentored several rheumatologists in Kenya. He is a prominent figure in rheumatology internationally and he lectures throughout the world. He is located in Manchester, England.

Articles written by the Board Members

  • Hitchon C, Meltzer M., Scuccimarri R, Desyibelew B, Mengistu Y, Melkie, Yirsaw Z, Colmegna I. Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Public Referral Hospital of Ethiopia. Journal of Rheumatology (2017).
  • Colmegna I, d.J.Y., Desyibelew B, Scuccimarri R, Meltzer M, Hitchon C. Barriers to the Use of MTX in Ethiopia: Survey of Pharmacy Providers. Journal of Rheumatology supplement (2017).

Abstracts presented by Board Members at the Canadian Rheumatology Association, February 2017

  • Low Dose Methotrexate in the First Trimester is Associated with Increased Risk Fetal Death: A Systematic Review. J.Li, H. Loewen, M. Meltzer, C. Peschken, C. Feldman, M.Weinblatt, I. Colmegna, C. Hitchon
  • Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Public Hospital in Ethiopia. CA.Hitchon, M Meltzer, R. Scuccimarri, BD Desyibelew, Y Mengistu, A Melkie, Z Yirsaw, I Colmegna
  • Barriers to the Use of MTX in Ethiopia: Survey of Pharmacy Providers. Ines Colmegna,Yvon de Jong, Birhanu, D Desylibelew, Rosie Scuccimarri, Michele Meltzer, Carol Hitchon
Click to read more

Board of Directors





Michele Meltzer MD, MBE, President

Michele Meltzer is Associate Professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She was president of the Philadelphia Rheumatism Society in 2000-2001 and then served on several committees for the American College of Rheumatology. She returned to school at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 2000’s to obtain a master of bioethics. While completing this degree, she became a fellow in the global health program and did a research project on pain management for sickle cell disease in Ghana. While in Ghana she became aware of the severe shortage of rheumatologists in many parts of the world. Since then she has been to Kenya, India and most recently Ethiopia investigating how best to improve access for rheumatologic care in underserved areas. She is also on the curriculum committee at Thomas Jefferson University and actively investigating to find the most effective teaching techniques for rheumatology





Carol Hitchon MD, Treasurer

Carol Hitchon MD FRCPC MSc is an Associate Professor of Medicine and clinician scientist in the Section of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba. Her practice includes general rheumatology with special interests in inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue disease. Dr Hitchon’s research interests are focused on understanding pathogenesis and improving clinical outcomes for persons with rheumatic disease. She is an active collaborator in national and international research programs. Dr Hitchon is particularly interested in initiatives to improve rheumatic disease care and outcomes for Canadian Indigenous North American populations and for persons living in resource limited countries. ​





Yewondwossen Tadesse Mengistu MD, Secretary

Yewondwossen Tadesse Mengistu is a consultant nephrologist based at the Tikur Anbessa (Black Lion) Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which is the major teaching hospital of the School of Medicine, Addis Ababa University. He did his undergraduate medical training and his residency training in internal medicine at the School of Medicine, Addis Ababa University and trained in nephrology at the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Yewondwossen has been serving as the head of the renal unit for several years and has served two terms as head of the department of internal medicine of the school of medicine, Addis Ababa University. He takes care of many patients with rheumatic diseases and supervises residents at the weekly rheumatology clinic in his hospital which is the only place in Ethiopia where organized care for patients with rheumatic diseases is given. Very keenly aware of the gaps in rheumatology care, education and research in his home country, he has been looking for partners that can help to promote the development of rheumatology in Ethiopia. In the last two years, he has supported the East Africa interest group of ILAR in organizing and conducting CMEs and is actively engaged with the group’s efforts to help train rheumatologists for Ethiopia.





Professor Girish M Mody

Girish M Mody is the Aaron Beare Family Professor of Rheumatology in the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 1992. He is involved in the provision of rheumatology services at University affiliated public sector hospitals since 1981. He served as President of the African League of Associations for Rheumatology (1999-2003) and member of the executive committee of the International League of Associations for Rheumatology (1995-2003). He was chosen as an “Ambassador” for the United Nations endorsed Bone and Joint Decade 2000 – 2010 and subsequently as a member of the International Coordinating Council of the Global Alliance of Musculoskeletal Health. He has played as active role in promoting rheumatology in Africa and participated in academic programs in North, West, East and Southern Africa. Professor Mody has also contributed to the education and training of health professionals in South Africa and other parts of Africa. In 2015 he was honoured by the election as a Master of the American College of Rheumatology.





Professor Robert J. Moots MD PhD

Robert Moots is Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Liverpool, UK. Qualifying in Medicine in London, he earned his PhD in immunology at the University of Oxford before moving to Harvard Medical School USA to continue his research. Professor Moots’ research spans bench to bedside, with a focus on developing a personalised medicines approach to therapy. His unit is EULAR Centre of Excellence for research and National Referral Centre. Professor Moots is advisor to the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has published extensively and each year receives invitations to lecture all around the world. He is passionate about enhancing access to rheumatology care in developing countries by education and research and has trained and mentored several rheumatologists in Kenya.





Rosie Scuccimarri MD

Dr. Rosie Scuccimarri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Rheumatology of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She was the Pediatric Rheumatology Residency program director from 2011-2018. Her research interests include Pediatric Rheumatology Global Health, Kawasaki Disease and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. She helped train and mentor a Pediatric Rheumatologist in Kenya; and has been involved in teaching and research in both Kenya and Ethiopia. She is actively involved in several committees of the Canadian Rheumatology Association; and previously served as board member, and chair of the Pediatric Committee. She is an active member of the Canadian Alliance of Pediatric Rheumatology Investigators (CAPRI) and Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA). She hopes to contribute the Pediatric Rheumatology perspective to access to care, education and research on the board of Rheumatology For All.



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