With 1,400 participants from 91 countries and more than 200 speakers, the 46th World Hospital Congress held in Lisbon between 25 and 27 October was a huge success.
By drawing on experience from all around the world, we worked to shape the hospitals of the future.
This event was promoted by the International Hospital Federation and co-organised by the Portuguese consortium formed by the Portuguese Association for Hospital Development (APDH), the Portuguese Association of Hospital Managers (APAH) and the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitals (APHP), so that it would be an event that involved the entire hospital community. This synergy was crucial to building a fruitful project with a common goal: more and better health. The opening session was attended by the Portuguese Health, Dr. Manuel Pizarro, and the closing session by the President of the Portuguese Republic.
For all the attendees, it was a unique opportunity to learn and network with their peers from the international health community, facilitated by an excellent programme. The consensus among the participants was that the scientific content of the presentations was extremely valuable. The Congress had numerous plenary and parallel sessions, which addressed strategic axes for guaranteeing quality healthcare: contemporary leadership, which encompasses the reorganisation of healthcare services and the need to keep up with current changes; the needs and well-being of the workforce (healthcare professionals); sustainability, climate change and the need to make healthcare activities “greener”; and finally, digital transformation and innovation in healthcare – delving into the role of tools like telemedicine, remote monitoring devices, artificial intelligence and even robots. Not forgetting that visits were organised to a number of hospitals, particularly private hospitals.
It is crucial that we place the debate on the future of hospitals and the future of health systems at this level. Those who took part in the Congress certainly left enriched in terms of knowledge and motivated to do better and lead their teams. This ability to join forces, to have the courage to recognise problems and the energy to find new solutions, is the guarantee that the difficulties of the present will not get us down and we will always be able to do better. Hospitals, all hospitals, are an essential part of health systems and their role, even if with new modulations, will be strengthened.
This Congress had international representation at the highest level, right from the opening message from WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to the constant presence of IHF President and CEO Deborah Bowen and Ron Lavater and President-elect Dr Muna A. Tahlak.
In representation of European private hospitals, in addition to the host, APHP president, Oscar Gaspar, the President of UEHP, Dr. Paul Garassus and UEHP Secretary General, Ms Giannico, both attended the Congress. Dr Garassus made a number of important networking contacts, met the Portuguese Health Minister and attended the IHF Governing Council dinner. Ms Giannico had the opportunity to be a facilitator during the IHF partners’ workshop on the vision for hospitals in 2030 and how do we achieve sustainability, with a focus on healthcare workforce shortages, staff retention, wellbeing and burn out prevention. The discussions and the exchange of experiences were very enriching and stressed the urgency to act immediately to tackle this issue. Healthcare workforce shortages have a direct and serious impact on the quality and safety of healthcare services that we deliver to our patients.
Dr Paul Garassus, President of UEHP
Ms Ilaria Giannico, UEHP Secretary General