For the IAAH community, early November was being excitedly anticipated as a time of inspiration and ideas, challenge and renewal, friendship and fun as we came together in person at the World Congress for Adolescent Health in Lima, Peru. Sadly, the global pandemic means that we are all still at home. In Melbourne, we have finally beaten down our 2nd wave. Many countries in Latin America are also doing better but other regions are increasingly under pressure, such as Europe.
The pandemic is challenging us to identify new ways of working, learning and connecting. One surprise this year has been the wider reach that IAAH has achieved through online forums. At a personal level, for example, beyond engagement in various webinars, I have been pleased to virtually represent IAAH at conferences in India, Indonesia, Lebanon, New Zealand and Sri Lanka – clearly this would not have happened in person. I was particularly moved by a recent webinar from our Young Professionals Network on Adolescents and COVID19 that brought together students, trainees and early career professionals from across the world with government health officials from India and Indonesia. Their comments on the call were among the most powerful I’ve yet heard about the disruptive effects of the pandemic on young people.
I am also delighted with the growing strength of IAAH’s relationships, partnerships and collaborations. In this newsletter, for example, Dr Susana Grunbaum, the new president of the Confederation of Adolescents and Youth of Latin America, Italy and the Caribbean (CODAJIC), describes the work of the Confederation. Representing 22 highly diverse countries and organizations, we warmly welcome CODAJIC to the IAAH family. And we are grateful for our many years of fellowship and cross-fertilisation with the US Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), also featured in this issue. It is certainly a time for celebrating strong connections, old and new. They sustain us as we continue to move through this crisis.
This year saw us collaborate with Family Planning 2020 in the development of a policy statement on COVID19 and adolescent sexual and reproductive health to augment our own policy statement on COVID19 and adolescent health. International workforce federations of doctors, nurses and pharmacists accepted our invitation to endorse the statement, our first to be translated into Spanish and French. This aligns with our recent Council decision to translate new policy statements more widely.
Looking ahead to 2021, we will be launching Presidents Connect, a virtual forum for the presidents of national associations for adolescent health. We have been quietly building a list of national / regional associations and their key contacts – more suggestions and introductions are welcome. Our new Education Committee, chaired by Risa Turetsky, will shape our strategic intentions. We hope again to reach Peru but in November next year – we will provide regular updates. We will also be looking for new Council members. Though our travel may be limited, our mission will continue to thrive.
Finally, as this is our last newsletter for the year, I would like to warmly acknowledge the contribution of the IAAH administrative and leadership team for all of their efforts across 2020. This includes Jenna Baumgartner, our executive administrator; our Council, committee chairs and their members; our treasurer, Meera Beharry; and the Young Professionals Network leadership team. Organisations are only as strong as the people who contribute to them. Thank you for engaging with us in 2020. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you are interested in making a greater contribution to IAAH. Hasta pronto.