By: 1 June 2007


For half the population of humankind, the path from puberty through childbirth and the menopause is fraught with inconvenience, increased risk of disease, psychological upturns and death; much more than the other half.

In the course of rising up to these, one expects the quality and effectiveness of drugs and health-related products to be responsive to clinical opinion and perception. Doctors for whom women’s health is a primary calling, have an un-questionable role in defining and safeguarding standards in practice and research.

Organisations which support and service the delivery of healthcare would expectedly listen, when the largest gathering of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK convene!

From the draft programme, it promises to be an intensive educational event. From Australia, Professor Alan Trounson would examine if stem cells represent opportunities or constitute a hazard. Ethicists, Reproductive Biologists, Sociologists and Human Rights advocates will certainly want to hear the details from this Global Scientific Strategy Advisor.

Keyhole surgery has certainly come to stay. Professor Maurice-Antoine Bruhat from France would attempt to predict if laparoscopic hysterectomy is the trend for the present, or for the future.

On either sides of the Atlantic, impressive work has been going on in fetal medicine. Delving into the frontiers of tomorrow, prenatal diagnosis may as well enter an era of sampling maternal blood or liquor for fetal nucleic acids. Very few experts are eligible to talk about this. And Professor Diana Bianchi from the USA is one of them.

Another closely related talk is that by Prof John Burn: The President of the European Society of Human Genetics will talk about recent advances in the understanding the genetics of fetal abnormality.

With the River Thames nearby, Brian Sewell will talk about Art on the River. No, there will be no need to remind you of its tide and times, or that it flows in any direction it fancies. Talk of a river with a mind of its own!

On Stream 8 of the draft programme, is an impressive line-up of parallel sessions. Amongst this, a particular one whips up some curiosity. It is titled: “The four seasons of O&G”. There is a speaker to each address Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter. So one wonders: what on earth will they come up with to dazzle the audience?

Three guesses: the biological-life phases of the woman; symptoms and presentation pattern of women in relation to the seasons and -wait for this-what dress code women expect of gynaecologists in hospital when it is snowing or not!

One other thing: Vivaldi might not even be played in the background.

Teenage pregnancy will be described from a socio-epidemiological context by Prof Kaye Wellings. She should know. She was a co-investigator in the landmark study of British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. If you have a teenager in your care, this could sober you up.

It comes a day after the plenary session on ‘Vaccination and Immune Control of HPV’, capably tackled by Professor Peter Stern from Manchester. It promises to build upon the flurry over the new vaccine for pre-coitarcheal women, to prevent cervical cancer in the future.

International Societies of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which support this congress will also hold joint sessions.

The South African Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology will lead the session on ‘Reproduction and HIV’. Members of this society practice in a setting that has suggestively, the largest density of women affected by this pandemic of scary dimensions.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada [SOGC] will lead the session on Risk Management.

Education and Training will be the focus at joint sessions by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the Royal Australasia and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Finally, the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecologic Societies of India will address what makes obstetrics a bloody business-haemorrhage. One expects to hear from the perspective of a challenging environment with an energetic approach.

There are two other important sessions not to miss: The William Boney Lecture by Professor William Ledger, titled: ‘Surgical approaches to fertility’; and the William Meredith Fletcher Memorial Lecture, titled: ‘Misoprostol-an essential drug in obstetrics and gynaecology’, by Professor Ho. Sanofi Pasteur MSD, Baxter, Wyeth and Ethicon will each host satellite symposia. It is obvious that most delegates will find it hard to pick one session to attend, over the other.

This is a reflection of how much of thought, imagination and innovation has gone into planning for this congress. From the content of events, reputation of speakers and the admix of expected delegates, this congress is arguably second to only one other congress. We are still wondering which.

It is in this spirit that this journal sends its best wishes to the British International Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology holding in London, this July.