SAAFP Congress 2021
COVID-19 has changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. Its negative impact on the economy of so many countries and the loss of control of chronic disease management has no doubt been devastating. The year 2020 will go down in history as the year in which the world’s health resources were directed at a single virus in combatting its treacherous clinical course while discovering a protective, sustainable and affordable vaccine. Health systems in some countries are on the verge of collapse with irrecoverable damage.
This unpredictable virus has precipitated an unprecedented socio-economic, medical, political and funding crisis throughout the world. Globally the number of COVID 19 cases has exceeded 132 million with South Africa ranking 18th in the number of positive cases and over 52000 deaths to date. Scientists, while working around the clock, have expressed concerns about the success of vaccines as new and virulent variants of the virus are discovered.
Since the start of the pandemic, South Africa had been proactive in limiting the transmission of Covid 19 with lockdown regulations imposing severe restrictions. While necessary, the movement restrictions limited access to essential services by the vulnerable population viz elderly persons, institutionalised persons, obese patients and those with comorbidities that required regular monitoring.
Healthcare workers were also not spared, and many became infected or affected by COVID-19. Many lost their lives. Service delivery, with a significant shortage of staff on the one hand and burnout of staff on the other hand, reached breaking point as the first wave recovery was followed by the devastating second wave. The third wave is inevitable while some health care workers battle with post Covid cardio-pulmonary disability and others wait in hope of a successful vaccine rollout program.
It is against this background that I have the greatest pleasure to announce that the 23rd Annual Congress of the South African Academy of Family Physicians (SAAFP) will take place on a virtual platform from 13 -14 August 2021. The convening of health care workers, educators, scholars, scientists, government officials, sponsors and society is envisaged to leverage lessons of the Covid 19 pandemic to better respond to current and future uncertainties and future pandemics. COVID-19 has galvanised scientific expertise and multisectoral communities into action and we need to accelerate this momentum for our profession going forward.
The theme for the 23rd congress of the SAAFP is therefore titled ‘Primary Health Care: In the era of the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond’
Covid 19 has determined a new world order. The platform of organising and presenting knowledge had to embrace the new virtual reality. The 23rd SAAFP congress will follow this new different normal.
I urge you to join us in August 2021 for an exciting virtual conference experience. The online conference will give you the opportunity of listening to and engaging with delegates and speakers from across the world. Indeed, we will provide experiences of experts from Europe, Africa and other parts of the world. The congress organizers and the Academy of Family Medicine will once again gather brilliant minds and share information through scientific presentations, workshops, seminars and robust debates to make this a memorable experience for everyone attending. Plenary sessions with renowned speakers promises to be events not to be missed.
Join us in this innovative new way of interacting with colleagues, scientists, programme managers, and community members, both representing national as well as international societies. We are planning an interesting programme which will include international faculty and globally recognised local participants that will cover key cross-cutting themes, listening to the personal health care professionals’ experience of COVID infections, maternal health, and immunology around COVID 19 infection and the latest on COVID 19 (variants, COVID in children, long term COVID, and prevention, diagnosis and treatment) across thematic tracks. We will also cover the interests of undergraduate and postgraduate students with a special registrar parallel session. Key exciting workshops and seminars designed to bring augment training will add a new dimension to this virtual congress.
This promises to be a riveting congress where you will get world class information which is highly applicable to your practice today. The SAAFP, the Local Organizing Committee and I look forward to meeting you online at our 23rd annual congress.
Prof Indiran Govender
Chairman: SAAFP Congress 2021
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