Let me start with this confession: I had often nursed reservations and trepidation about visiting countries in the core Middle East. This was perhaps due to my long held view that these countries were still largely far behind in embracing new trends and still very rigid in how they related with the rest of the world.
However, I have now been purged of this my jaundiced view by my experience at the memorable 79th International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 22 to 26 September. It was my first time in the city and I am quite impressed with how the UAE authotrities have managed to create a country that can be referred to as a beautiful oasis in a desert.
Now I can attest to what many people probably know before – that the UAE or, more specifically, Abu Dhabi City in the UAE, is a beautiful city, comparable to, if not better than, many other great cities of the developed world in terms of infrastructure.
The road network is so good it looks like a joke. The city is also well secured, with everyone aware that there are security cameras everywhere, even in public buses and taxis. You feel so safe and secure even though there is no visible presence of security personnel, as is the case in many other parts of the world. Also, when you interact with the few policemen you come across, they are very courteous and respectful; yet the way they talk gives you so much confidence that they are not only effective but efficient at their job.
Apparently, no stone has been left unturned by the Abu Dhabi government to ensure the city is serene and, despite the slightly hot weather condition, you are more likely to feel very comfortable in that city as a visitor. The icing on the cake is definitely the attitude of the people in the UAE. They are courteous, friendly and welcoming. No wonder, cities in the UAE especially, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have become a destination of choice for tourists from all over the world. I would surely love to visit the UAE again.
However, beyond the comfortable ambience created by the government of Abu Dhabi, I must also commend the leadership of the FIP for organising a conference to be remembered for years by the participants who were at the venue, which was Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on Khaleej El Arabi Street. Not only was the venue very fitting, all the processes of the conference were topnotch. This exactly is why most participants will have fond memories of the conference.
Moreover, the lectures were interesting, educative and illuminating. The speakers were able to dissect all the subtopics, reflecting the theme of the conference, as well as providing fresh perspectives on issues such as people-centred care, ethical challenge, technology, robotics, challenges on new research, access to health, non-communicable diseases, empowerment of women, as well as discussions on different fields of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.
I attended some of the sessions and the discussions were engaging and eye-opening. It is my view is that if participants begin to embrace some of the innovative submissions, especially on some of the ideas that have elevated pharmacy practice in some parts of the world, the profession will benefit handsomely.
I will also personally remember this conference because of my encounter with the FIP President, Mr Dominique Jordan. I interviewed him for Pharmanews and he was such a gentleman and a journalist’s delight. The respected community pharmacist has deep insights on the contentious issues in the profession and how to elevate the profession. He was emphatic that to tackle the global menace of fake drugs, pharmacists must be allowed to help in identifying the fictitious medicines.
The next FIP conference is holding in Seville, Spain, from 13 to 17 September 2020 and with how great the 2019 edition was, this next conference, themed: “Technological Revolution – Impact on Pharmacy and Healthcare”, should be a must-attend for pharmacists and other stakeholders in Pharmacy.