Collaboration, patient representation, and why this is the best time to be alive were the themes of the AUGS/IUGA Scientific Meeting presidential addresses this year

Two physicians, one from the United States, one from Brazil, extol the virtues of being a member of AUGS and IUGA, and how there is no time like the present when it comes to medicine.

Jorge Milhem Haddad, MD, International Urogynecological Association (IUGA) president began his joint welcome address at the 2022 American Urogynecologic Society and International Urogynecological Association’s 47th Annual Meeting with an enthusiastic rundown of all that will be available to participants over the next 2 days. “We will have workshops, social events, a fellows’ day, surgical tutorials, focused, and basic science programs,” Haddad enthused.

Haddad next took a deep dive into the various ways IUGA collaborates and flourishes with health care providers around the globe. “By understanding the similarities and differences around the world, we can work together to address needs, share information, and fill knowledge gaps,” he noted.

Part of thea organizations’ collaborative efforts are funneled through strategic partnerships and regional advisory boards, both which can establish new connections and offer fresh perspectives, particularly in the international space. Examples of strategic partnerships are joint webinars with associations like the International Continence Society (ICS) and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).

Regional advisory boards (RABs) are present in regions including Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, where collaboration can include multicentric studies and explorations, and shared discussions on new treatments and practices. RABs have also been able to organize webinars series and regular Zoom meetings to discuss important topics (ie, surgical training, multicenter clinical studies, systematic registration of treatment outcomes). These are also opportunities to use a multidisciplinary approach for international symposia.

Perhaps the most impactful part of Haddad’s discussion was how IUGA sees “patients as partners.” Recognizing that patients are at the center of health care, the IUGA developed a patient advisory council, because “no one knows the patient better than they know themselves,” noted Haddad.

Finally, Haddad shared activities and goals for IUGA for the remainder of 2022 and 2023 which include furthering the development of the IUGA patient website, YourPelvicFloor.org; support the development of other patient-focused communication; strive to achieve more diversity (geographical and cultural); and review possibilities to start pelvic floor awareness campaigns.

Next, Elizabeth Mueller, MD, MSME, FACS, president of AUGS, began her provocative presentation titled, “Navigating Chaos.” She began by sharing a screen of news clip montages that included George Floyd’s heart-wrenching, “please, I can’t breathe,” headlines of the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan, climate change, and Donald Trump’s second impeachment.

The session then took a markedly philosophical, and ultimately optimistic turn, first by sharing the Four Pillars of Enlightenment: reason, science, humanism, and progress, from the Canadian-American scientist, Steven Pinker's book, “Enlightenment Now.” Mueller emphasized the remarkable health care progress that humankind has made over the past 100 years, from declining mortality rates, to the development of life-saving treatments and vaccines. She noted how people like to think romantically about the past, and shows on platforms like Netflix pay tribute to these ideas of the “good old days,” but, as she pointed out, most of those stories were about the very few in society who had the means to do well and live well. She also noted how, in modern-day America, the negative noise in the media can both distract and distort reality. As an example, she shared a study that found that most Americans rank death from tornados more common than death from asthma, because dramatic weather events capture headlines better than common disorders like asthma.

Her ultimate message: we are living in the best possible time, where endless options for disease and other health care conditions continue to be studied and discovered. “We are the scientists that are needed to continue progress. In order to stay focused and see clearly, we have to learn to control our attention, emotions, and where we place our energy.”

Reference

Haddad JM, Mueller E. Plenary: Joint welcome comments/presidential address. 2022 American Urogynecologic Society and International Urogynecological Association’s 47th Annual Meeting. June 14-18, 2022. Austin, Texas.