Niki O’Brien | Communications Officer, WFSA
In 1955 the first World Congress of Anaesthesiologists was held at Scheveningen in the Netherlands and at the end of the Congress the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) was formed, with 26 Societies were represented and a further 16 observing.
Why did these anaesthesiologists first come together? After the end of the Second World War anaesthetists found that international travel became more widely available, and coupled with a desire to learn from others and exchange experiences, a World Federation seemed a natural way to facilitate this.
60 years on and the world is continuing to open up with the appetite of anaesthesiologists to share knowledge and make connections with colleagues around the globe ever increasing. In July this year the ESA formally became the ‘European regional section’ of the WFSA. This role has encouraged greater collaboration between the ESA and the WFSA, and has meant that more European anaesthesiologists are engaged with the WFSA and our work.
This sense of unity, unmatched in other specialties, is what makes anaesthesia providers such a strong group, and makes us a truly global federation.
The WFSA marked our 60th anniversary by launching a blog to showcase all of the great work we do to advance the field of anaesthesia from a global health perspective. From interviews with our Fellowship and Scholarship awardees, to advocacy campaign messages, the blog allows us to share what we do and the impact we have with our members and the public.
We also sent out a special 60th Anniversary Weekly Newsletter in September, which explored past innovations and current news in the field of anaesthesia in a fun and light-hearted way. The Newsletter allowed us to stay connected with our members and really share our enthusiasm as we reached this milestone.
Looking to the future
As the year begins to draw to a close, the WFSA is looking to the future. We will be stepping up our campaign against the push to have ketamine ‘Scheduled’ by the UN Committee for Narcotic Drugs (CND) at the end of November. If ketamine is scheduled it will be much more difficult to access in the places that need it most, and so we must come together to ensure that this does not come to pass.
The campaign is part of our growing advocacy efforts to protect and improve global access to safe, affordable and timely access to anaesthesia care. It is by strengthening essential care now, that future generations of patients and anaesthesiologists will benefit. Please look out for details of the campaign on our website, social media and newsletter over the coming month.
Next year will be a very busy year for the WFSA as we host the 16th World Congress of Anaesthesiologists (WCA) in Hong Kong next August. The event will be bigger and better than ever before, with an incredible 17 track programme, global networking opportunities, and world class speakers.
We recently announced that Dr Atul Gawande, surgeon and bestselling novelist; and Tore Lærdal, Executive Director of the Lærdal Foundation, Chairman of Lærdal Medical, and Managing Director of Lærdal Global Health, will be sharing the stage to give the Harold Griffith Keynote Speech at the event – we are already excited to hear their views of the future of global health!
Looking to the next 60 years, we are excited to see the impact anaesthesiologists can have on the wider world. As a united network we have a strong voice that is able drive change and improvement, innovate medical technologies and ways of working, and implement safety standards that will impact anaesthesiologists and patients alike.
The WFSA would like to take this opportunity to thank our members for their support over the past 60 years, we simply would not be able to have achieved so much without your contributions.
For more information about the WFSA please visit our website.