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Looking to the Future of WPA while Reflecting on its Recent Growth

by Juan E. Mezzich, WPA's Immediate Past President

An enthusiastic look to the further evolution of the World Psychiatric Association can be justified and sustained by a sober appraisal of its considerable maturation and differentiation over the past decade.

First, in terms of institutional consolidation, we can recognize the modern and highly functional secretariat that has informed and supported WPA's life since the last years of the preceding century. The conceptualization and first edition in 1997 of the long ambitioned Manual of Procedures afforded us a qualitatively new level of administrative transparency  and effectiveness, which has been consistently refined through its 4th edition in 2007. Crucial too have been the first comprehensive and yearly updated WPA Directory, the triennial General Survey systematically taking our institutional pulse and elucidating longitudinal trends, the quarterly and increasingly illustrated WPA News and the richly informative and highly visited WPA Online. All have been possible and powered by a well trained, talented and dedicated staff. Collaboratively organized have been increasingly effective financial procedures and activities that led to achieving in 2008 a well balanced budget and an unprecedented reserve of over a million US dollars.

Impressive also have been the promotion and activation of our 135 national member societies through increasing visits to and consultations and leadership meetings with them. Synergic with this has been the consistently and growingly effective work of our Zonal Representatives. They are enhancing WPA's governance and bringing our mission, activities and image to all corners of the world. Starting in 1961 as WPA's scientific backbone, our Sections have achieved commendable effectiveness over the past decade, some effectively coordinating global scientific communication and work in their particular responsibility areas. Central sectoral activities have been discernibly growing, particularly concerning publications (where an indexed and widely distributed World Psychiatry is filling a precious professional role) but also in regard to scientific meetings and educational programs.

WPA's global impact has featured increasing collaboration with world medical and health organizations, not only with WHO but also with such bodies as the World Medical Association (which recently requested our assistance for the revision of their famed Helsinki Declaration on Medical Research Ethics) and the World Federation for Mental Health (with which we have signed a pioneering collaborative agreement)

Among the institutional programs approved by the Cairo General Assembly, that on Psychiatry for the Person has achieved striking success both internally across WPA member societies and  scientific sections, and by engaging several global medical federations towards the development of a person-centered medicine. Approved again by the Prague General Assembly, this initiative may prove the impact of WPA efforts and ethical aspirations to stimulate the medical world at large to recommit to our profession's fundamental scientific and humanistic values and advance our clinical procedures.

It is, therefore, on the grounds of these encouraging and widely based developments and achievements that we can justifiably expect the continuous ascendancy of a lively WPA, energized by its renewed leadership and its well established and vibrant sections, institutional programs and member societies.

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