President Message on COVID-19

President Message on COVID-19

Dear friends, dear ISAPS members,

We are all following with concern the development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide.

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic and that they expect a global population infection rate of around 70%.  This is affecting different parts of the world at different rates and at different times and with different responses.

However, in many countries we are already seeing a shortage of emergency drugs like adrenaline, antibiotics, and especially protective gear including suits, gowns, and masks. I am receiving reports from colleagues in various countries describing war-like conditions.  As a result, elective routine procedures have been banned in these countries in order to reduce the consumption of essential resources and keep them accessible for emergency use only. 

This may or may not be impacting your own practice at present, but we should all be thinking about what we can do as plastic surgeons and responsible doctors to limit this global crisis as soon as possible.

First of all, we can learn from the experiences of the affected countries and our colleagues and follow general WHO recommendations for pandemic containment and protect our workforce and patients from unnecessary risk. This includes taking familiar hygiene measures and limiting social contact, but we should also consider remote consultations where possible, postponing routine or non-urgent checks, and postponing operations and procedures where advisable. Of course, we can only make recommendations that may be implemented differently in each country due to local conditions and legislation.

These are sensitive areas for our specialty, but we need to support keeping important medication available for emergency patients. In particular, we may need to consider which operations in our discipline are associated with high resource consumption and which materials are most important for emergency treatment. I am thinking of procedures that require antibiotics, adrenaline (i.e. liposuction) and protective gowns. Furthermore, we should consider that an asymptomatic patient can become a complicated patient through general anesthesia and that any major surgery may involve complications that may require inpatient treatment or even intensive care beds.

I am writing to you from Germany, a country whose health system is considered one of the best in the world. And even here there are already shortages in many places as we are only just beginning to see the spread of the virus.  You will all have different experiences in different parts of the world, but there is no doubt now that we will all be affected in some way and need to support our healthcare systems to operate effectively.

As ISAPS members, we all want to contribute to patient safety worldwide. Even though you may not yet be severely affected in your region, this is an opportunity for us to come together as a community and to support each other during, and eventually overcome, the corona crisis.

In the meantime, please be assured that we will continue to serve our members proactively.  The knock-on effects on global travel and event planning is being felt worldwide.  Many of you will have had travel bans imposed, potentially have arranged leave for meetings that you can no longer attend, or have had to cancel your own meetings, as ISAPS has had to for the coming months.

We want to assure you that we will be looking at all the ways in which we can continue to support our ongoing educational efforts and community engagement remotely.  As well as making use of the materials available to you on our website, please keep an eye out for our communications as we provide you with additional resources in the coming weeks until we can resume business as usual for our face-to-face meetings and educational events.

Finally, we want to assure you that we are still planning to be together in Vienna in September for our 50th anniversary World Congress.  We will also make additional provisions, in case some areas remain under travel restriction, for members to participate in selected areas of the congress remotely.

Sincerely,

Dirk Richter, MD – ISAPS President