Jorge Milhem Haddad
Jorge Milhem HaddadIUGA President

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In my last letter, I invited all of you to attend the Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. It is hard to believe that the meeting was over 4 months ago! Our collaboration with the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) for this joint scientific meeting was amazing, and it was fantastic to meet all of you in person after 2 very difficult years due to the pandemic. The meeting brought together 955 in-person attendees and 373 virtual attendees for keynote lectures, debates (including an amazing balloon debate on SUI), panel discussions and more, plus numerous social and networking opportunities. The virtual attendance option allowed us to reach a wider, truly global audience, and provide educational opportunities to many members who were unable to travel to join us in person. I am grateful to all our in-person and virtual attendees for making the 2022 AUGS/IUGA Scientific Meeting a great success and would like to remind you that you can access on-demand recordings through the end of the year with your registration.

In this letter, I will highlight some of the recent accomplishments that I shared in my Presidential Address and the Annual Business Meeting. These accomplishments are organized around three pillars – integration and collaboration, a multidisciplinary approach, and working with patients as partners – and support the overall goal of promoting women’s health.

Integration and Collaboration

Around the pillar of integration and collaboration, we have organized our Regional Advisory Boards, each chaired by the International Advisory Board member from the respective region. The African RAB has representatives from 10 countries; the Asian RAB has representatives from 19 countries in 4 distinct regions; the European RAB has representatives from 14 countries, and finally, the Latin American RAB has representatives from 10 countries. The RABs are regional networks of IUGA members who are leaders in national urogynecology societies or sections. They are working together to share knowledge, develop initiatives (such as our second webinar series focused on urogynecology in Africa), and build further connections.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

The multidisciplinary approach is so important in our specialty and IUGA is a home for all professionals working in the field of female pelvic health. Our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) incorporate expertise from different professions. Our Nursing and Midwifery SIG, chaired by Angie Rantell, and the Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation SIG, chaired by Maura Seleme, took the lead in planning the 3rd IUGA International Symposium for Nurses, Physios, and Other Allied Health Professionals this past March. This virtual event was immediately followed by our first-ever virtual Public Forum.

Patients As Partners

The third pillar focuses on working with our patients as partners because they are the center of everything we do. To better understand what patients need, we developed the IUGA Patient Advisory Council (IUGAPAC), chaired by Ranee Thakar. The IUGAPAC unites healthcare professionals and patient representatives from all over the world in one advisory body and aims to incorporate the patient perspective in all that we do at IUGA. After all, no one knows the patient’s needs better than they know themselves!

During the Annual Business Meeting, I shared some of the major accomplishments of our Committees and Special Interest Groups (SIGs):

  • In 2021-2022 we offered 21 Webinars and Interactive Networking Sessions, including one webinar in French and two Interactive Networking Sessions in Spanish.
  • Monthly E-Lectures, Must-See Surgical Videos, and Annual Meeting content was added to the IUGA Academy.
  • Webinars, Interactive Networking Sessions, and videos about IUGA initiatives and benefits were added to the IUGA Video Library.
  • We developed a joint consensus document on Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) with the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) and submitted it for publication.
  • We conducted a systematic review on the impact of childbirth on future deliveries. This paper is in the process of finalization. It has not been published yet but is expected before the end of this year.
  • We are starting the development process for new opinion papers on mixed urinary incontinence; rectocele and obstructed defecation; and OASIS.
  • We published a joint terminology paper on cosmetic gynecology with AUGS, with more terminology papers still in development or nearing completion on obstetric pelvic floor disorders (joint project with ICS), female bladder pain (joint project with AUGS), female lower urinary tract, pelvic floor function and dysfunction.
  • Work continues on a new Image Library that will be available in the IUGA Academy through the joint efforts of the Education Committee, Terminology & Standardization Committee, and the Pelvic Floor Imaging Special Interest Group.
  • The IUGA and AUGS basic science groups worked collectively to publish an e-book, Foundational Science and Mechanistic Insights for a Shared Disease Model.
  • The IUGA Basic Science SIG held a consensus conference on developing the next generation of researchers.
  • Our SIGS continue to offer dedicated sessions.

As you can see from this list of accomplishments, our Committees and SIGs are vibrant and productive groups, and I would like to thank all of you for your great contributions to both IUGA and the field of urogynecology.

In addition to these many contributions and offerings from our committees and SIGS, we implemented free student membership in IUGA to introduce students to urogynecology and build the future pipeline of urogynecologic practitioners and IUGA members. We also began offering free membership for students for up to three years.

There is still a lot of important work to be done. I encourage you all to participate actively in IUGA, as a member of a committee, a SIG, a writing group, or other initiative of interest to you, and through your scientific contributions to the IUJ – the best journal in urogynecology. Together we share the accomplishments of IUGA with our colleagues and the world!

Please, feel free to contact me with your questions or to share your ideas. As I always say, together we are stronger, and together we will ensure IUGA remains the best international urogynecology organization.

Warmest wishes

Jorge M. Haddad

This issue of the Spotlight is a special one dedicated to female voiding dysfunction. It includes expert opinions on several controversial topics in the field which will hopefully provide food for thought for our readers.