The biggest International Emergency Medicine Conference in Africa was held in Cape Town 24-26 November. Over 650 delegates from South Africa and over 40 countries converged on the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the second Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa (EMSSA) Emergency Medicine in the Developing World Conference. The programme covered a wide range of emergency medicine topics including disaster medicine, paediatrics, medicine and trauma, original research, emergency nursing, sports medicine and includes interactive workshops. Invited faculty were world leaders in their fields, including a wealth of South African speakers. Five stimulating workshops were scheduled for the days leading up to the Conference, promoting excellence in emergency care and disaster medicine.
The theme of this year’s Conference was Mass Gathering and Disaster Medicine in the Developing World, which ties in with South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup organising committee gave a welcome speech at the registration cocktail on the evening of Monday 23 November at the CTICC. In keeping with the Mass Gathering and Disaster Medicine theme, EMSSA was also proud to acknowledge Gift of the Givers as one the main event sponsors.
Amongst several high profile international organisations that are backing the conference, the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine had been extensively involved – as they were in the first conference, held in Cape Town in October 2007. Their extensive faculty have always been committed to the development of emergency medicine in South Africa, and EMSSA has established vital links with their institution.
EMSSA was originally established by a group of enthusiastic healthcare professionals dedicated to the development of quality emergency care throughout South Africa. Emergency care provision has grown rapidly in recent years in South Africa and EMSSA has started to look outside our borders. This has resulted in the commencement of specialist training for doctors from other African countries in Emergency Medicine who, at the completion of four year training, will be able to travel back to their respective countries and be the driving force behind the provision of excellence in emergency care. EMSSA is also committed to the development of emergency medicine in other African countries including Botswana and Madagascar. EMSSA acknowledges the importance of the sharing of knowledge and the empowerment of others to provide the best emergency care possible.
Emergency Medicine is a new speciality in South Africa, with the first locally qualified specialists graduating in 2007 from the joint postgraduate degree offered by the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University in 2007. Now postgraduate training is offered at Wits University, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu Natal and University of Limpopo. The training programme in Cape Town has for the past 2 years accepted many students from all over Africa, and even as far afield as Saudi Arabia. Training in emergency medicine in Cape Town is widely recognised as the centre of excellence in Africa.
The future of emergency medicine in South Africa is very bright and all stakeholders remain committed to providing the best possible emergency care to the citizens of South Africa as well as our neighbours in the rest of Africa.