Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A new dawn for ophthalmology in the Middle East and North Africa

"This region (the Middle East and North Africa) is the cradle of civilisation as well as the origin of  mankind. It is here that human civilisation started 6,000 years ago."

With these words Dr Adbulaziz Al Rahji sent out a message to the 10,000 delegates from 136 countries attending the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 in Abu Dhabi, that ophthalmology has to look to a global audience if it is to develop.

This is the first time that the WOC had visited the MENA region and Dr Al Rahji and his colleagues will be hoping that it will not be too long before it returns.

At a spectacular opening ceremony in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Dr Al Rahji, said that ophthalmogists in the region had a past that they were proud of and a bright future that had brought them to WOC 2012.

They had come together to focus on science, he said, and to work together to improve the quality of life of their patients. Many individuals, he said, had worked together to make sure that the delegates attending the Congress would leave the meeting with greater scientific knowledge and a positive cultural experience.

EuroTimes talked to Dr Al Rahji, president of WOC 2012, on the day before the close of the meeting on Monday February 20 and he said that the feedback that they had received from delegates had been very positive. "We are happy that we managed to provide a high quality scientific programme with a good meeting facility, " he said. "One of our main aims was to give delegates a flavour of the culture of the region, so the congress has been scientifically enriching and also socially rewarding."

As one congress ends, the work begins on another. The venue for WOC 2014 is Tokyo, Japan.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Prague hosts 16th ESCRS Winter Meeting

The 16th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Prague hasd continued the improvements made in both the format and content of the recent meetings held in Budapest in 2010 and Istanbul in 2011.

“The first winter meetings held in the late 1990s were almost entirely dedicated to refractive surgery,” he said, “and the main autumn meeting was predominantly a cataract meeting. In recent years, the thrust of the winter meeting has evolved and I think it has evolved very much for the better,” said ESCRS President Dr Peter Barry.

Dr Barry (pictured above with Pavel Studeny, the ESCRS Board member from the Czech Republic pointed out that the society had made a commitment to hold the winter meetings in emerging European countries that in the past might not have had the opportunity to host major international meetings. “The winter meeting now has a similar format to the main summer meeting in terms of symposia, free papers, instructional courses and wet labs,” he said. “It might be somewhat more didactic than the main meeting but it also has innovative components similar to our main meeting.”

Dr Barry said the ESCRS was also very grateful that the international industry had continued to support the winter meeting to ensure that there was a lively trade exhibition at the meeting.

“The meeting is becoming more important in its own right,” he said, “and it is providing excellent opportunities for local ophthalmologists for practising and training. We  also introduced lower registration fees for delegates from the countries close to Prague so that it is more economic and convenient for them to attend the meeting.”

An indication of the success of this initiative is the fact that more than 100 delegates from the Czech Republic  attended this year's meeting in Prague, compared to seven  attendees from that country  in 2011.