This past week, the Durban ICC was the venue for the largest gathering of professionals from the international Critical and Intensive Care Medicine community ever held in South Africa. The 11th Congress of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine (WFSICCM) was held from the 28 August until the 1 September 2013 and was the first time the congress was held on the African continent.
Hosted by the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa, under the theme “Critical Care for All – Providing More for Less” the congress explored the challenges of providing first-world levels of care in a third-world environment. The dynamic programme included plenary lectures, thematic sessions, cutting-edge Meet-the-Expert sessions with interactive audience participation, interactive debates, clinical ward rounds, tutorials, round table meetings and hands-on workshops. The workshops, lectures and symposia also included participation from the allied medical fields such as physiotherapy and dietetics which play an integral part in the care of patients.
The major outcome of the congress was the release of the Durban Declaration, a founding statement for the future of critical care services worldwide. The declaration provided specific objectives for all parties involved with critical care, from the patients and their broader communities to health-care providers, funders and governments. The ten key principles in the Durban Declaration were expanded upon in a ten-point plan which will act as a catalyst for change in the provision of critical care around the world.
“Whilst the challenges in healthcare on the African continent are vast and complex, it is so encouraging to see the commitment of this medical community addressing these challenges head-on. The organisers are to be commended for the achievements made at this conference which will hopefully lead to more affordable critical care and the scaling up of research and training in this field”, commented Julie-May Ellingson, the Durban ICC’s Chief Executive Officer. The Durban ICC has a proud history of hosting medical conferences and is scheduled to host other significant medical conferences in the coming months. These include the 6th MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference in October and the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer’s 9th International Conference in November 2013.
The congress has left behind a legacy not only for the delegates who attended the event, but also for the communities who benefited from the two projects supported by the conference. From the initial planning stages, delegates were encouraged to bring along new and second-hand books which they could donate to the Books for Africa initiative. Stations were provided at the congress where delegates handed in books which were then distributed to disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu-Natal in partnership with Books for Africa and the Eshowe Action Group. The congress also made a significant contribution to the LIV Village which provides holistic residential care for parentless and vulnerable children in the province.