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Parkinson's disease film

‘Shaking Hands With The Devil’

Published on: 8 September 2023

An independent film shares first-hand experience of the stigmatisation and persecution of people with Parkinson’s in Kenya and the brutal consequences of having the disease.

Dr Natasha Fothergill-Misbah, from Newcastle University, Olz McCoy and presenter David Plummer have released their independent documentary ‘Shaking Hands With The Devil’, which explores the stigmatisation and persecution of people with Parkinson’s disease in Kenya.

The short film explores the first-hand experience of presenter David – noted wildlife photographer, conservationist, best-selling author and inspirational speaker – on his deeply personal journey during a recent visit to Kenya.

Clasping hands

Stigma and scrutiny

During his journey, David not only had to navigate his own Parkinson’s neurological symptoms, but experience the stigma and scrutiny of his movement challenges in a nation with limited Parkinson’s awareness and access to medical care.

Compounding his challenges, the film shares the widespread belief in Africa, where resources are limited, that Parkinson's is often associated with witchcraft or supernatural forces.

Dr Fothergill-Misbah, Research Associate at Newcastle University, said: “If someone is suspected to be a witch, they are at risk of violent oppression, greatly impacting the ability of people with Parkinson's to access medical care they desperately need.

“As we documented David’s experiences during his travel to Kenya, it became even more deeply emotional for all three of us as we witnessed and heard first-hand what people go through living with Parkinson’s in Kenya.

“Having the opportunity to produce this short film, our desire is to make people aware of the challenges Parkinson’s patients have accessing treatment, care and life-saving medication.”

The prevalence of Parkinson’s globally has doubled in the last 25 years and is expected to affect 12.9 million people by 2040, posing a growing public health challenge.

As a condition associated with aging, improvements in life expectancy are contributing to the disease becoming the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world.

The three creative minds behind ‘Shaking Hands With The Devil’ connected shortly after David  travelled to Sri Lanka in early 2023, experiencing misunderstanding and stigma during the course of his work trip.

Because of his movement disorder, David was subjected to the airline calling the police, being detained during his travels, and experiencing constant scrutiny.

The mistreatment he received and misinformation he experienced on this trip pushed him to start looking into Parkinson’s in less developed countries, and he was put in touch with Dr Fothergill-Misbah, an expert on Parkinson’s in Africa.

Dr Fothergill-Misbah primarily works in Kenya and, coincidentally, that was David’s next work trip, so they decided to collaborate and produce a documentary.

Inspiring change

David brought Olz to the team, having worked together previously on a film, and Olz was immediately interested in directing this important documentary.

Olz said: “What I saw and captured in the film – what David experienced first-hand – will continue to both haunt me and inspire me to facilitate change.

“David’s journey and his willingness to forge forward, overcome the stigma, and live his life was an inspiration, and I am certain will be not only an inspiration to film viewers, but hopefully a clarion call for change in how the medical community understands and treats Parkinson’s patients in Africa.”

David added: “I cannot thank Natasha and Olz enough for leading with their hearts in capturing and sharing my story and the story of Parkinson’s patients in Kenya.

“I am forever grateful for their efforts, and even more optimistic that this film will draw attention to a vastly overlooked problem with Parkinson’s acknowledgement and treatment in Africa and facilitate changes in treatment protocols moving forward.”

Parkinson’s therapy and treatment professionals are already taking notice of the film and are hopeful that the awareness the documentary creates will lead to improved therapy and treatment opportunities in Kenya and across the African continent.

To learn more about the film or to view,visit


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