The 12th IAAH World Congress on Adolescent Health is nearly here and I am very excited! At our November IAAH council meeting, our scientific co-chairs, Drs Jon Klein and María del Carmen Calle Davila, walked us through the program in great detail, and I can assure you that whether you work in health services, schools, communities, academia, government ministries, global agencies or NGOs, there really will be something for everyone! I am particularly delighted about the extensive program for early career professionals, and also acknowledge how hard our Young Professionals Network has worked to develop that Congress track.
18 months into the pandemic – and having deferred the 2020 meeting in the hope of being able to meet in person in Lima – I am disappointed that we are unable to experience the warmth and hospitality of our Peruvian and Latin American colleagues and to explore this beautiful region. My memories from the 11th World Congress in Delhi, India in 2017 are rich, reflecting as much my enjoyment at new friendships forged over courtyard feasts at the conference hotel, and appreciation of the astoundingly colourful Indian clothing, as the terrific scientific presentations. And who can forget the experience of the 10th World Congress in 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey, with anti-government protests in Taksim Square? Young people’s bravery in the face of armed police and teargas was not exactly what any of us were expecting at a scientific meeting, but was a potent reminder that young people are always at the forefront of social change.
We also appreciate the advantages of meeting virtually; delegates from far and wide can participate, as can many more early career professionals and young people who could not otherwise afford to travel. Having said that, replacing jetlag with the juggle of time zones will be a personal challenge for many of us; I am considering changing my clock to ‘Lima time’ a week early in order to be able to join you – alertly – from my Melbourne, Australia timezone.
The theme of the 12th World Congress is “Meeting the challenge of global change”; in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – and immediately following COP26 and the ongoing struggle to combat climate change – it is apparent that there will be much to discuss. So while I will be sorry not to meet you in person in Lima, my consolation will be to be able to catch up with you personally through the ‘Gather’ social networking space that we are using within the conference platform. See you soon!