WFSA Newsletter Feb 2012: WFSA 2008-2012; A look back over four years
The WFSA works in four-year cycles, each beginning and ending with a World Congress of Anaesthesiologists so this is always a good time to look back and review our activities. The Management Group, the Executive and all of our Committees have been busy and I believe we have accomplished a great deal. I would like to highlight some of the most notable achievements.
Complete reports from all the committees will be
available on the WFSA website and will provide a great deal more detail but
here I just want to focus on some of the highlights of the cycle.
Besides continuing support for our
longstanding anesthesia training programmes, we have introduced some new ones.
In Fortaleza, Brazil, we have a programme in regional anesthesia. This is a
partnership between CLASA, the Brazilian Society and the WFSA. Led by Dr
Danielle Dumaresq, the trainees are exposed to all of the modern techniques in
regional anesthesia including ultrasound use. There is a strong didactic
programme and lots of hands-on practice and the young anaesthesiologists return
home confident in their new skills. So far, we have trained Fellows from Peru
(2), Colombia (2) and Cuba (1), with 2 from Mexico arriving shortly.
We are making major efforts to improve the
management of pain so, also in South America, we have another new programme,
this time in Pain Management. This training programme, in Buenos Aires,
Argentina, is led by Dr Juan Carlos Flores and supported by CLASA, the Buenos
Aires and Argentine Societies. The trainees study various modules on-line
before spending time in Buenos Aires where they are introduced to multimodal
techniques in the management of chronic pain. They are able to keep in touch
with the pain centre when they return home. The trainees so far have come from Chile, Honduras, Mexico,
Ecuador, Colombia and Peru with others due to arrive from Venezuela, Mexico and
WFSA has also funded a research project in
postoperative pain by Dr Diana Finkel from Buenos Aires. She will be assessing,
via a questionnaire, the effectiveness of
postoperative pain relief in several centres. Then, following an educational
intervention with anaesthesiologists, she will re-do the survey in order to
assess the effectives of the intervention in changing practice.
We also have a one-year Pain Fellowship in
Bangkok which is co-sponsored by IASP. We have taught Fellows from Malaysia,
Laos and Mongolia with others from Nepal and Vietnam arriving this year. Currently we are working with IASP to establish a
similar programme in South Africa.
Drs Roger Goucke from Australia and Wayne
Morriss from New Zealand have developed The Essential Pain Management Course.
This is an introduction to basic pain management and is aimed at physicians,
nurses and pharmacists. It gives them the tools to understand the nature of
pain, why it should be treated and the obstacles to effective treatment. By
reviewing the issues in each local environment, it is hoped that a better
understanding will be created and pain management planning can become
consistent and effective. The course has been supported by the Australia New
Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) and by the WFSA. It has been trialed
successfully in Fiji, Rwanda and Tanzania. Ongoing funding has been committed
to this project by the WFSA.
Another very successful effort has been our
Teach the Teachers (later named ISIA) project, co-sponsored by the European
Society of Anaesthesiologists. It began in Eastern Europe with young anaesthesiologists
from Serbia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland. The second course included
trainees from Romania, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece and Macedonia. Now it is in its third iteration with other European countries
(Croatia, Malta, Latvia, Georgia, Turkey and Lithuania), and its first course
in Russia, with Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan also participating. The course
is dedicated to improving teaching in anesthesiology. Not everyone is a natural
teacher but the skills can be learned and developed. What is most gratifying to
see is that young anaesthesiologists from the early courses are now teaching in
the later programmes and also organizing modules in their home countries.
Altogether, we will have assisted about 80 young teachers of anaesthesiology to
improve their teaching skills.
These courses are much in demand and,
thanks to an unrestricted grant from Baxter International Inc and the efforts
of the Colombian Society of Anesthesiologists (SCARE), a course for Latin
American anaesthesiologists is now underway. It will be a little bit different
from the European courses, making more use of advanced computer modules before
the participants come together in Bogota to do the final part of the course.
These are very exciting developments and it is our intention to bring them to
Asia and Africa as soon as that is feasible.
of the Week:
A very popular programme, organized by the
Publications Committee, is the Tutorial of the Week. This is a peer reviewed,
educational tutorial on a different topic every week which is available on the
WFSA website. For colleagues who have difficulty obtaining textbooks, and for
trainees who just want to use on-line learning methods, this provides an
excellent, in-depth analysis of a particular topic with pre- and post-
assessments. It is accessed on-line by people from all over the world.
One of our most recent developments was the
formation of a Scientific Committee. This committee was given several tasks all
of which they have accomplished with ease. First of all, WFSA wished to have a
higher profile at regional scientific congresses. So the Scientific Committee
has organized WFSA Symposia at many meetings such as the ESA and AACA meetings.
At others, such as the All African and SAARC meetings, we have organized
workshops. All of the content has been topical and the attendance and feedback
excellent. The Scientific Committee also reviews educational programmes where
WFSA support is requested so that our name and logo are associated only with
approved scientific content.
Perhaps the most major achievement of the
Scientific Committee has been the development of a research competition for
young anaesthesiologists. We have long believed that we needed to support
research as the next step in educational development. It can be very difficult
for academics in low-income areas to obtain the kind of training they need to
be able to develop academic research programmes. With this competition, we have
been able to fund three young colleagues from Moldova, China and Russia to
study abroad with appropriate experts. They all submitted excellent research
projects and will now be able to take them to completion and return home with
knowledge and expertise to further develop research in their own departments.
WFSA will continue funding this programme in 2012.
We all know that maternal mortality rates
in some parts of the world are forbiddingly high and need to be reduced. Lack
of access to safe obstetrical anaesthesia plays a major role in maternal
mortality. The Obstetric Committee, together with the Obstetric Anaesthesia
Association, the International Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia and Elsevier,
supported by a grant from Baxter International Inc, has produced a two CD ROM
set of articles, lectures, refresher courses and information for patients. So
far about 3000 have been distributed free of charge.
In addition, WFSA has funded courses in
obstetric anesthesia where the safe and appropriate management of obstetric
patients is taught. This is a new joint venture between the WFSA, AAGBI and the
WHO. The first course was piloted in Uganda and was very successful. The next
course will be in Bangladesh.
WFSA has signed on to the UN Secretary
General’s effort to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 ie to reduce
childhood and maternal mortality. We have had discussions with our sister
society in Obstetrics ie FIGO and we hope to be able to develop some joint
Thanks to a donation from the American
Society of Anesthesiologists, Professor Rebecca Jacob’s book on Pediatric Anaesthesia
has been translated into Spanish and distributed free of charge in Latin
America. The book has also been translated into French and distributed without
cost in French-speaking Africa. WFSA would like to thank all of those who
volunteered to do the translations.
While always having the health and welfare
of the patient at the forefront, it is also important to remember that we need
to take care of ourselves. Our Working Group on Physician Health has been
conducting surveys and publishing research on matters relating to the wellbeing
of anaesthesiologists. WFSA sees this as so important that the Working Group
will become a permanent committee. We will look forward to further information
and follow-up from them in the future.
If you have been on-line, you will have
noticed our much improved website. We are constantly trying to make it more
useful and interactive. Obviously, in order to attract the younger
anesthesiologists we will need to improve our activities on the modern social
media like Twitter and Facebook. Just watch us!
Instead of publishing our own Newsletter,
we have improved communication via regular newsletters distributed through
regional sections and member societies and published in their newsletters and
on websites. This has kept our members much more up to date with our
activities. I must thank all of the editors and webmasters for their
cooperation in this effort.
The WFSA is not the easiest society to
organize and manage because of its world-wide scope and the fact that our
members live so far from each other. It is difficult to meet face to face. We
have worked hard to update our procedures. We use conference calls to keep in
touch more frequently than face-to-face meetings allow. We have modernized our
approach in meetings, utilizing small group and plenary sessions, to make them
much more productive and useful.
We have introduced project based funding
for all of our committees so that those which are active and have good ideas
can compete for funding. This has improved and supported the quality of all of
our activities. We have made great efforts to collaborate with other groups
within and outside of anesthesia and this has also enabled us to support more
projects and to improve the level of our educational efforts. We are immensely
grateful to all of those who have worked with us over the past four years.
The Management Team has spent some time
going through a strategic review process and we will be working on that with
the Executive Committee at the meetings in Buenos Aires. We will come up with a
blueprint that will take the Federation through the next four years.
I have left Lifebox until last because
there is no doubt that this is the largest project we have ever undertaken and
one of the most successful. It grew and developed from the pilot project of the
Safety and Quality Committee begun in 2004 in Paris. With the persuasive
efforts of Alan Merry, Iain Wilson and others to include pulse oximetry as an
essential part of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, the die was cast. All
anesthesia providers had to have access to an oximeter. The question then was,
how could that be achieved? With the coming together of WHO, Dr Atul Gawande of
Harvard, the WFSA, the AAGBI and many many other people, the dream is slowly
becoming a reality. Lifebox, the charity, is the result of massive efforts to
produce and distribute a suitable, low cost oximeter to those in need. An
educational package has been developed to go with it and, thanks to our many
partners and national society members, training and education are being
provided where necessary. We have a long way to go before the 80,000 operating
rooms in need are equipped with oximeters but the response to the project has
been overwhelming. Anaesthesiologists all over the world have taken this to
their hearts and are working hard to make easier the lives of their colleagues
in low income countries and to improve patient safety wherever anesthesia is
So, in summary, it has been a busy and
productive four years. I believe we have accomplished a great deal. We have
become more efficient and effective than ever before. We are partners with many
different organizations in education, research and patient safety. I would like
to thank all of those who have contributed to our efforts. There are too many
to name individually but the list includes not just anaesthesiologists but all
of those who work with us, and for us, in any capacity. We are immensely
grateful for your efforts. WFSA has been recognized as the organization which
speaks for anaesthesiologists all over the world. The next four years should
bring even more challenges but I have absolutely no doubt that the WFSA will be
able to rise to all of them.