Monday, 05 September 2011 00:00

One to one with ISN President John Feehally

Newly-elected ISN President takes time out from his ISN duties to talk shop and highlight the challenges ahead. 

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Our goals for the future

Diversity is one of ISN’s main characteristics. We want to see ISN being a Society that understands the needs of all its members, so that it becomes more and more a global family. ISN members have so much to learn by sharing and exchanging knowledge with colleagues in other countries. Taking these different perspectives into account can help us as we care for our patients.

Sustainability is another characteristic which should become a hallmark of everything ISN does. This is not only understood as ISN’s contribution to sustaining the environment as we saw expressed so clearly at this year’s World Congress of Nephrology in Vancouver, Canada. It is also about developing sustainable education, training  and capacity building programs so the exciting growth in nephrology we are now seeing in many developing countries can continue. I had the privilege of chairing ISN’s Fellowship Committee for 5 years. I never tire of meeting former ISN Fellows who are now nephrology leaders in their own countries and work to make sure that this new growth in nephrology is properly rooted, and will indeed be sustained in the long term.

Safe and healthy transplants

ISN continues to stand solidly with The Transplantation Society, advocating through the Declaration of Istanbul against transplant tourism. There remains much work to do. Constant vigilance is needed to maintain the gains we have made in our stand against bad transplant practices which have developed in parts of the world. A further opportunity to raise awareness will come through World Kidney Day 2012 as the theme focuses on kidney transplantation.

Share and share alike

ISN’s Global Outreach (GO) Programs remain at the heart of what we stand for. But, we must work to shed the old notion that this is ‘one way traffic’, in which those of us who work in the resource rich developed world share what we have with those who have much less. GO Program participants testify this fact. Everyone learns as much as they ever teach: eye-opening lessons about medicine, culture and life in different circumstances which are part of the ISN GO experience.

Different worlds, different challenges

In developing countries, nephrologists go about their daily work without benefitting from many of the advantages of doctors in the developed world. Access to new medicines, dialysis treatment and transplant facilities are services that renal doctors, such as myself, can easily take for granted. Since long-term dialysis is unaffordable  in these regions, early detection and prevention must be the basis of our approach to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
We especially need to think more about the huge challenges faced by nephrologists in these regions where the consequences of infection, combined with the rapid growth of non-communicable diseases are a ‘double jeopardy’, threatening to overwhelm available resources. At last the World Health Organization and the United Nations are giving non-communicable diseases ‘top billing’. We must work to ensure that the importance of CKD as a major non-communicable disease is understood beyond those of us involved in nephrology. I also want to see renewed efforts to raise awareness about Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) in the developing world. So many children and young adults have reversible AKI and the opportunities to save lives and restore health are within their grasp through affordable care.

Education tops the agenda

So many of ISN’s programs have educational goals. That is why we have an Education Task Force at work, to
make recommendations about the best way to coordinate ISN’s educational efforts, ensuring that what we offer meets the educational needs of our members.

We must grasp the opportunities of new technologies including social media to broaden access to ISN’s educational output. The newer technologies cannot completely substitute traditional methods. There will always be enormous value in giving opportunities to younger nephrologists to ‘meet the professor’ face to face. By making the most of modern technology, now increasingly accessible worldwide, we hope to make educational opportunities more readily available for all. ISN wants to be at the forefront of these developments.

ISN visibility towards affiliated and partner societies

The international renal community is made up of societies that have common goals. ISN is building partnerships with international societies with interests close to ISN. Each one has its own focus: pediatric nephrology, peritoneal dialysis, hypertension and transplantation. Rivalry makes no sense. By building partnerships we can achieve more working together than we ever could alone.
Many nephrologists all over the world still seem to be unaware of much of what ISN is already achieving. We must continue to take opportunities through ISN’s affi liated national societies to reach more nephrologists with our message. I am sure this will encourage many more to become ISN members and support our efforts.

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