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Report of the 2nd Pan-European Regional Congress of the International Committee of Military Medicine

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2nd Pan-European Regional Congress of the
International Committee of Military Medicine
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4-8 June 2012

Report

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Report of the 2nd Pan-European Regional Congress of the
International Committee of Military Medicine

The 2nd Pan-European Regional Congress of the International Committee of Military Medicine was organized in Amsterdam (Netherlands) from 4 to 8 June 2012. The Congress Centre of the Navy Barracks hosted 175 participants from 31 countries. Besides the European countries, there were several delegations which came from other continents.

In the presence of a significant representation of the ICMM Secretariat General, led by its Secretary General, Major General (Dr.) Roger VAN HOOF (ret), the chairmanship of the Pan European Regional Working Group has been passed to Brigadier General (Dr.) Rob VAN DER MEER, Surgeon General of the Netherlands Armed Forces by Colonel (Dr.) Alexander VLASOV, Acting Surgeon General of the Russian Federation Armed Forces.

The organizing committee of the Congress and the scientific committee, led by Commodore (Dr.) Adriaan Hoperus BUMA (ret) had identified and selected high-level keynote speakers and very interesting scientific papers.

For the theme on infectious diseases, the organizers had invited renowned speakers, Prof COUTINHO, Director of the Center for Diseases Control of the Netherlands, Prof. GROBUSH of the University of Amsterdam and Prof. BEHRENS of the London School of Medicine. In the same discipline, Major Dr. SOENTJENS of the Belgian Armed Forces gave a remarkable presentation on his experience of taking charge of schistosomiasis among soldiers returning from operations in Africa. Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) FAULDE (Germany) stressed on this subject the persistent importance of infections transmitted by insects to the armies in operation, insects could have a negative impact on the operational capability. Among the papers on Epidemiology, the audience enjoyed the results of a large survey on cancer incidence among Dutch veterans of the Balkan-war by Dr. SCHRAM-BIJKERK (The Netherlands). This large survey confirms that there is no link between cancer and the operations in the Balkans.

A special place was reserved for Traumatology, especially due to the fact that many European armies are currently engaged in Peace Support Operations in which they regret many injured. The conferences of Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) RUSSELL (United Kingdom) and Colonel BARENBOIM (Israel) gave complementary information about the experiences in two different theaters.

The daily life of a surgical team in Afghanistan has been dramatically illustrated by the presentation of Chief Medical Officer Gonzalez (France). We must also mention the very dynamic presentation of Col. (Dr.) VAN DER KRANS (the Netherlands) on the modern management of complex fractures of the calcaneus in injured victims of mines or IEDs. Lieutenant Colonel BADLOE (the Netherlands) expressed the experience of the Netherlands Armed Forces in the use of frozen blood products in operations and the advantage over more conventional products.

The session on traumatology was supplemented by a session on physical medicine and rehabilitation that allowed representatives of the Dutch Armed Forces to show their expertise and the modern facilities and equipment essential to the rehabilitation.

Involvement in war operations causes emerging ethical problems. The team of Colonel (Prof.) BAER (Switzerland and ICMM Reference Center) had the occasion to recall some of the difficult questions on the combat conditions of today.

Psychic wounds have also been taken into consideration. Surgeon Captain GREENBERG (United Kingdom) presented a well-documented state of the situation in the British Armed Forces engaged in several theaters of operations since 2003.

Aspects of care were addressed by Colonel (Dr.) JETLY (Canada) regarding the deployment of Canadian forces in Kandahar (Afghanistan). Captain Commander (Dr.) DEHEEGER (Belgium) stressed very appropriately that psychic trauma concerns frequently the nursing staff as well, and that it is essential to establish mechanisms for screening and managing of these disorders.

A poster on this theme has been awarded by the Scientific Committee. It was an epidemiological study of neurotic disorders among Russian soldiers, by Dr. Andrey Marchenko (Russia) and collaborators.

The Regional Assembly of the ICMM the Pan European Regional Working Group has identified the following working themes:
• Ethics and International Law of Armed Conflict.
• Vaccinology.
• Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases in the armed forces.

All delegates present at the meeting recognized the value of this congress and were convinced that this meeting didn’t duplicate meetings of other organizations such as the European Union or COMEDS. On the contrary, the scientific content of this congress makes them complementary. The ICMM Pan-European Congress is recognized as an independent and impartial technical platform of exchanges within Europe and beyond as evidenced by the presence of other delegations.

The Dutch organizers had combined the sessions with interludes of relaxation and socializing such as the opening reception, a superb gala dinner and a very nice excursion to the village of Zaanse Schans to meet the old traditions of the Netherlands.

The closing ceremony was honored by the presence of General van Uhm, the Chief of Defence of the Dutch Armed Forces who spoke about the confidence and the recognition of the combatants towards their health personnel, whose activities and expertise are essential for the efficiency and the morale of the troops. This sign of friendship and brotherhood in arms has deeply affected all participants who will not forget the words spoken by the General.

The 2nd Pan-European Regional Congress of the International Committee of Military Medicine is a success beyond any doubt and its results are fully consistent with the founding objectives of the ICMM.


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