Jorge Milhem Haddad
Jorge Milhem HaddadIUGA President

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I wish all the best in 2022 for all of you and your families! It is difficult to believe that the first year of my presidency is over. It seems that I just wrote my first President’s Letter in which I shared my goals for my term as IUGA President, including a focus on continuing and enhancing our standing as the premier international and multidisciplinary urogynecology society.

We aim to achieve our mission through dedication to the advancement of our knowledge, improvement of patient care, providing excellence in education, and promoting basic and clinical research in our field.

To make this a reality, we have a strategic plan in place that guides us in setting goals and achieving our objectives. It is based on four pillars: Knowledge Creation and Synthesis, Knowledge Dissemination, Organization Strengthening, and Advocacy for Urogynecology and IUGA.

Despite the pandemic, we have been working hard! I appreciate you all taking the time to read this letter in which I present a summary of our 2021 accomplishments related to the 4 pillars of our strategic plan.

Knowledge Creation and Synthesis
IUGA developed COVID-19 guidance and content aimed at specific regions/countries, delivered through webinars and interactive networking sessions. This included a 4-part webinar series focused on urogynecology in Africa, and an interactive networking session conducted in Spanish. We also organized joint webinars with the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), Society for Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS), and the Pre-Vocational Obstetrics and Gynecology Society (PVOGS). They were all amazing! Moreover, the International Urogynecological Consultation (IUC) committees continue to work hard and to deliver the best international papers on pelvic organ prolapse.

Our various committees and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) created onboarding videos so that members could see, hear, and learn directly from those involved in each of them. We added the Robotic Special Interest Group in 2021. The Education Committee continues to manage our online e-learning platform, IUGA Academy, and adds a new E-Lecture every month in addition to must-see surgical videos and selected content from the IUGA Annual Meeting.

Our committees have continued their fabulous work. Several work products to highlight include new terminology papers on urodynamics and cosmetic gynecology, as well as a consensus document on ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) that is being developed in collaboration with the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS).

Knowledge Dissemination
Knowledge dissemination was achieved through the following activities:

  • Successful virtual IUGA Annual Meetings in 2020 & 2021.
  • 2nd IUGA Annual International Symposium in March 2021 with more than 600 registrants representing 55 countries.
  • IUGA Virtual Regional Symposium (in collaboration with our affiliate society partners in Thailand) in August 2021 with almost 300 registrants representing 45 countries.
  • Online resources in Spanish.
  • International Urogynecology Journal, which received an increased impact factor of 2.89. This is fantastic!

Organization Strengthening
As a multidisciplinary society, we have increased outreach to allied health professionals, nurses, and midwives. We have both a Nursing and Midwifery Special Interest Group and a Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Special Interest Group, and we are adding NMAHP (Nursing, Midwifery, Allied Health Professional) representation on each Regional Advisory Board. 

We are working on a review and update to our Conflict of Interest policy to support even more transparency, and we are looking to develop our pipeline of future leaders beginning with our new Leadership Development Workshop offered next month.

We are enhancing connections through the organization of Regional Advisory Boards (RAB), already established in seven regions (Europe, Latin America, Africa, Southern Asia, Southeastern Asia, Centra/East Asia, and Western Asia). Each RAB is chaired by the International Advisory Board member from the region. The RABs are composed of the presidents of the national urogynecology societies or presidents/chairs of the urogynecology section within the national ObGyn societies. In areas where there is no relevant regional society, we have invited key opinion leaders who have an interest in forming a urogyn society or section in their country, plus one NMAHP representative as mentioned before. The RABs serve as regional networks of urogynecology leaders and facilitate ongoing communication in each region. This provides a better understanding of specific needs within each region/country and identifies ways in which IUGA can assist them.

Advocacy for Urogynecology and IUGA
We established the IUGA Patient Advisory Council (IUGAPAC) with 19 members (10 patients and 9 health care professionals). The IUGAPAC is chaired by IUGA Past President, Ranee Thakar. With the establishment of IUGAPAC, we are able to incorporate the patient perspective directly into our activities with the goal of improving care through policy and program changes. This council unites healthcare professionals and patient representatives in one advisory body and works to close the gap between the two.

The Fellowship Development Committee was developed with the help of Sylvia Botros-Brey, who is chairing this new committee. The committee’s aim is to identify a minimum set of core topics for urogynecology programs as well as to develop a “road map” for establishing programs in less developed regions. This information will be important to achieving the long-term goal of establishing urogynecology as a subspecialty around the world.

As an international society, we recognize many languages are spoken by our members and the patients you serve. We continue our focus on developing resources in Spanish. Regional programming is offered at the Annual Meeting (i.e., Ibero-American meeting, Pan-Asian meeting, and this year a new African meeting). We also provide patient information leaflets in over 20 languages!  We have also expanded our outreach on social media with the creation of an IUGA Instagram account. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The work of IUGA is accomplished by our members, especially those chairing and serving on IUGA Committees, Special Interest Groups, IUC Committees, and the IUGAPAC. I would especially like to recognize and thank our member volunteers whose terms on IUGA committees ended December 31, 2021, and our new committee members.

I would also like to thank the Editors-in-Chief of the International Urogynecology Journal, Rebecca Rogers and Steven Swift, and the entire IUJ team for their splendid work during the pandemic.

And finally, a special thanks to the IUGA Board of Directors - a wonderful team – and David Casalod, Tessa Benitez, and their great group in the IUGA Office who have made all these projects possible.

To conclude this letter, I would like to remind you that IUGA is the most relevant and powerful international organization for the creation and dissemination of urogynecological information, knowledge, and skills worldwide, with more than 3,000 members representing more than 90 countries. Our members are full of energy, ideas, and IUGA’s gateway to regional and national networks, knowledge, and needs.

Please feel free to contact us with your questions or share your ideas. As I usually say: Together we are stronger!

On behalf of the IUGA Board and Staff, I would like to wish you and your family an amazing and healthy 2022.

Warm regards,