WPA President's Opening Message and Annual Review
Today is a special and long-awaited day, as today, I am delighted to open our first in-person Congress in two years! On behalf of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), the Psychiatric Association of Thailand (supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Thailand & Department of Mental Health, Thailand) and the Organising and Scientific Committees, we would like to officially offer everyone a very warm welcome to the 22nd WPA World Congress of Psychiatry (WCP22).
We are excited to open the doors to many fellow mental health care professionals in the beautiful city of Bangkok. Our theme for this week is “Psychiatry 2022: The need for empathy and action” and over the next 4 days, we will examine and discuss all the crucial issues in psychiatry and mental health. With over than 2370 registered participants from 100 different countries, 207 Sessions, 600 speakers, 73 Symposia and 980 ePosters, we will all be able to benefit from up-to-date research data, the best lectures from experts in all fields of mental health, high-quality scientific content, high-value interactions between mental health & social care professionals, patients and careers, and relevant peer-to-peer networking.
In addition, for the first time this Congress, WPA Collaborating Centre Group and WPA Working Group on Medical Students were delighted to offer Medical Students and Psychiatric Trainees Travel Awards to join us in Bangkok. Scarlett Machado, (Psychiatry Resident, Mental Health Institute of Jalisco, Zapopan, Mexico) was presented with the award by the WPA Collaborating Centre Group, and Daniyaal Taheri (Seth GS Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India) and Jolly Thomas (University of Ibadan College of Medicine, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria) were granted the awards by WPA Working Group on Medical Students. You can read the full story here.
As we kick off our annual Congress, I feel it is a good point to take the time to reflect on what we have all achieved since our last congress (WCP21), review the events that have occurred and share our achievements. I would start by paying tribute to my close colleague and dear friend, Professor Petr V. Morozov following his sudden and unexpected passing last month. As WPA’s General Secretary, it came as a great shock and huge sadness to me, his family, friends, colleagues and members of the psychiatric fraternity, all over the world. During this difficult time, we offer our sincere condolences not only to his colleagues, but especially to his family and friends for whom we recognise this great loss.
Unfortunately, the people of Ukraine are still in the middle of a terrible war with Russia. WPA continues to express our profound concern and support for the people of Ukraine and for our dear colleagues in the WPA Ukrainian psychiatric associations. Like most of the people of the world, as the conflict continues to escalate, we are deeply worried about the wellbeing of Ukrainians during this conflict, and the consequences of war. As a consequence, our Advisory Committee for Responses to Emergencies (ACRE) sub-committee, which was set up at the beginning of the invasion, has carried out the following activities:
Prof. Danuta Wasserman (WPA President Elect) established collaboration with other professional organisations and neighbouring country member societies for preparing further humanitarian activities. This has included:
Calling for donations in order to supply medications in Ukraine. This can be done either by using the “Donate Now” button or via a bank transfer on our web page here. WPA has donated an initial $2000 for this cause and we are still collecting donations.
Establishing a trauma resource centre on the WPA website. We are continuing to add resources to this page as and when we receive them.
Liaised with our member associations to provide a joint statement condemning the continuation of conflict, calling for the war to stop and collaborating on various support programmes for mental health professionals and patients in Ukraine and neighbouring countries who are receiving refugees and migrants.
The Polish Psychiatric Association (PPA), a member of WPA's Zone 9, offered support to Ukrainian psychiatrists and two Ukrainian Psychiatric Associations by actively providing medical and humanitarian aid. Read more here.
The WPA and Global Mental Health Academy jointly sponsored ICD-11 Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental, Behavioural or Neurodevelopmental Disorders online course offered 20 complimentary places in May for our Ukrainian colleagues. Read more about the course here.
Continuing to speak with our colleagues at the WPA Ukrainian psychiatric associations to emphasise our commitment and explore all means of support.
Continuing to hold regular meetings to regularly review the current situation.
The ACRE committee have also been raising funds for our Sri Lankan Member Society for their patients during the financial crisis and are continuing to offer support for our Afghan colleagues, you can read more here. WPA and its members are determined to stand strong and support those impacted by such distressing situations. As always, I am constantly impressed by what our members accomplish through their collaborations, adaptability and resilience during these critical situations.
Our day-to-day work continues and WPA has also been busy this past quarter with a number of projects. Our Action Plan 2020-2023 Working Groups have continued to meet and work together to fulfil their terms of reference. I am pleased to see the progress they have been making and the activities they have and are organising.
We also successfully held a number of WPA and Thematic Congresses as well as several Co-sponsored meetings throughout the past year across the globe. There are also several more planned for 2022 and 2023, so please do regularly check the WPA website meeting programme for further information. For a complete list of past and upcoming of Scientific meetings, please click here.
Online activities continue to be an important focus for us with a list of ongoing and completed projects, such as:
We continue to use our website and social channels to communicate and promote our activities, resources and work. This has also included our quarterly eNewsletter (WPA Review) and soon to be launched e-Journal Club eNewsletter. You can read all previous editions of the WPA Review here and read more about the upcoming e-Journal Club here.
WPA Scientific Sections are continuing to update web pages to ensure their Section's information is up-to-date and engaging. You can view the pages here.
We have been and continue to work hard with WPA Scientific Sections, Collaborating Centres, Zonal Representatives and third-party associations to produce a number of free and paid online educational activities for 2022. These included the latest edition of the "ICD-11 course", a series of webinars on "Schizophrenia" and "Up-date on Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Lewy Body Dementia", to name just a few. A full list of completed webinars can be viewed here. You can also regularly visit this page for any details of upcoming courses.
WPA has created a promotional video (led by the WPA Action Plan Working Group on Medical Students) with the theme: “Why Psychiatry”. The short video is available on our YouTube channel and is used to promote psychiatry as a future career for medical students and incorporates a number of brief interviews with members of Working Group and medical students from different continents.
We also finalised the first series of our “Meet the Leaders” film project where we have been interviewing the members of the Executive Committee as well as past WPA Presidents. We have been regularly releasing a new interview on our website and social channels. Subscribe to our news page and YouTube channel to make sure you do not miss them as we publish them.
As we kick off our 22nd Annual Congress, I would like to thank the WPA Executive Committee, Council, Board and all of our members for the continued support and commitment to our work. I am very much looking forward to the next couple of days and am confident that this will be another important and valuable scientific meeting adding a lot to the psychiatric and mental health knowledge.
Long live WPA!
Prof. Afzal Javed, WPA President
Author: Prof. Afzal Javed, President, WPA