Saturday, April 4, 2009

Record attendance at 10th MEACO Congress

Ophthalmologists from around the world gathered in Manama, Bahrain for the 10th International Congress of the Middle East African Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO).

The congress was officially opened by Dr Faisal bin Yacoob Alhamer, Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Bahrain, who said his country was very proud and gratified to be hosting such a prestigious international meeting and he looked forward to similar fruitful cooperation with MEACO in the future.

The chairman of the MEACO Board, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Ahmed Al Saud, welcomed the assembled delegates to the Kingdom of Bahrain and expressed his belief that the five-day meeting would prove a fruitful and informative forum for the international ophthalmic community. He noted that with almost 3,000 delegates registered for this year’s meeting, the congress continues to go from strength to strength.

Next to address the delegates was Dr Abdulaziz AlRajhi, president of MEACO (pictured above) who stressed the importance of forging partnerships both regionally and internationally in pursuit of excellence. He highlighted the strong collaboration between MEACO and associations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS).

“Our aim is to bring the best that the world has to offer to our members in the region in order to expand their knowledge and experience and contribute to the advancement of eye care services in the Middle East and Africa,” he said.

After thanking the local organisers and all of the generous sponsors for their continuing support for MEACO, Dr AlRajhi concluded his speech by stressing that actions, not words, are the true hallmark of achievement.

“Napoloeon Bonaparte once said that if you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything and deliver nothing. But in MEACO we like to say that people may doubt what we say, but they will believe what we do,” he said.

Bruce Spivey MD, president of the ICO, then addressed the assembly.

Stressing the strong bonds that have been built up over the years between the ICO and MEACO, he said that such cross-currents underscore the vitality of a discipline such as ophthalmology.

“We have all, as never before, borne witness to the dynamic relationships of the social and economic realities of the present-day world. The ICO is apolitical by conscious decision and behaviour. This meeting in Bahrain, a place inhabitated since ancient times and a crossroads to many cultures, is a wondeful reflection of the beauty and cosmopolitan nature of this region,” he said.

Dr Michael Brennan, speaking on behalf of the AAO, said that MEACO is perpetuating the proud tradition of the Gulf region and Mesopotamia as the crucible of medical science.

“This tradition continues as MEACO, and its forerunner PAACO, celebrates 20 years of providing the infrastructure for ophthalmologists to assemble to share knowledge and skill. More distinctively over recent years, MEACO has expanded its range of services and value to members and affiliate organisations in a variety of ways,” he said.

In addressing the communication challenges of globalisation and the technological revolution, Dr Brennan saluted MEACO’s efforts to collaborate with the AAO and the ICO in introducing a variety of international educational and informational content to its members.

Concluding the opening ceremony, Dr Ebtisam Al Alawi, chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee, said that the number of participants registered for the 2009 MEACO Congress, estimated in excess of 2,000 delegates, had surpassed all expecations.

“The meeting continues to evolve and develop. This distinguished gathering allows us to share experiences and exchange knowledge regarding the latest advances in ophthalmology and covers all the subspecialties of ophthalmology including epidemiology and prevention of blindness. I am very pleased to see delegates representing countries from all over the world, which shows how truly international this meeting has become,” she said.

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