For the first time in 37 years, delegates from ophthalmological societies in 130 countries will gather in sub-Saharan Africa next year for the International Council of Ophthalmology’s World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC).
The congress will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from 26-29 June 2020.
This gathering of Ophthalmology experts was first held in 1857, and is the longest continuous international medical meeting.
“We are very excited to host an anticipated 10 000 delegates from all over the world,” says Dr Kgaogelo Legodi, WOC 2020 President.
“There’s something special about kicking off a new decade on African soil. Added to this, the year 2020 is a very significant year in the eye care industry and to have experts from all over the world congregate in one place to discuss achievements, innovations, and ideas in the ophthalmology space is no small feat. It can only bode well for us in the decade ahead.”
Vision 2020, a global initiative focused on the elimination of avoidable blindness by the year 2020, was launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1999. The desire, at the time, was to provide support for access to countries that adopted this vision.
Legodi says African statistics are currently dire. There are approximately 5.9 million blind people in Africa and 26.3 million who have visual impairment.
The four-day congress will be hosted by the Ophthalmological Society of South Africa (OSSA) and co-hosted by the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) which represents 34 countries, and the Africa Ophthalmology Council (AOC) which caters for sub-Saharan Africa.
“We look forward to welcoming our visitors to the Mother City next June,” says OSSA chairperson, Dr Linder Visser.
“South Africa is a stunning country and Cape Town is one of our most scenic destinations. In as much as this is a congress where a lot of learning will occur, we also hope our country will lodge itself in the hearts of all the delegates who attend,” she says.
WOC is held in a different region every two years and attracts ophthalmologists of varying skill levels from across the globe. WOC 2020 will see field related exhibitions on display at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, an opportunity to network with peers, experts, leaders and trainees in the field. The robust programme will also cater for sub-specialities and related interests in ophthalmology. .
Attendees will also enjoy training sessions in wet labs by experts among other sessions that look set to upskill and empower those present with practical examples that will improve their patient care.
Says Dr Legodi: “The ripple effect of blindness and visual impairment is unimaginable to those of us who enjoy the blessing of sight. If we are able, to any extent, to give vision back to people, then every effort is worth our while.”
“WOC creates a space for experts to share best practices, research and innovations around eye care issues. It is a space where phenomenal conversations are sparked and impactful partnerships are forged. However, at its centre, it is a space where professionals discuss how to give patients who suffer from blindness or visual impairment the best the world has to offer.”