Welcome to the WFNS World Congress of Neurosurgery 2023 programme. As chair of the programme, I am looking forward to the results of so much hard work over such a long time by so many people to deliver a phenomenal meeting.
This year we tried a few new things. To promote diversity, inclusivity, and representation in all its forms, I relied heavily on working with the chairs of all the WFNS committees and all their corresponding members to develop this programme, so the almost 500 invited speakers truly reflect the organisation, rather than me or our organising committee. The speakers are a wonderful and diverse mix of giants in neurosurgery and the young generation standing on their shoulders.
We created strong themes for the meeting, to avoid it being a random collection of topics. The plenaries are dedicated to Training the Next Generation (Tuesday), Disruptors and Cutting-edge Innovations in Neurosurgery (Wednesday), Sustaining your Career (Thursday), and Global Initiatives (Friday). We also have dedicated sections across all specialties, such as Diversity in Neurosurgery, Advocacy, and Innovation & Working with Industry. We hope this will create focus and harmonisation in what we are doing in the different subspecialties of our discipline. Spanning a range from advancements in AI, to microsurgical technique, to ethics and community engagement, the programme covers everything. Please look out also for our sessions on developing a Research Integrity document for the neurosurgical community and plan to contribute!
Our overarching central theme for the meeting is Ubuntu, the African philosophy popularised by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In short, it translates as ‘I am because we are’. It is the idea that our destinies are inextricably linked, that in each other we find our common humanity and purpose. In a world where individuals and groups seem increasingly at odds with each other and pulling in different directions, we remind ourselves that we are bound together, that the collective is more important than the individual, and that we can do more together than we can apart. Come to learn, contribute, share successes and failures, and meet amazing people from different environments who share your professional DNA.
We can think of nowhere better to emphasize this strong message of our shared DNA than in Africa. This is the first time the meeting will be held in Sub-Saharan Africa, and for many of you it will be the first time you will step foot on the African continent. To you we say, Welcome back! Evidence shows that this is the soil that gave birth to modern humans, and if you trace your lineage back far enough, this is your true homeland. We hope that you will feel it in the air when you touch down from the plane. We are all Africans.
As Africans then, community is important. On behalf of the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa, the Continental Association of African Neurosurgical Societies, and our World Federation, we look forward to hosting you in Cape Town, connecting with you personally and professionally, and working together to create a bright future for our society.
The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies is truly a global community, comprising 132 societies and associations. One of the outstanding contributions of the WFNS has been supporting the growth of neurosurgery in low- and middle-income countries, with our profession taking root in countries where there had never before been a neurosurgeon.
The subsequent growth of neurosurgery on African soil is a real success story and we are excited to return to Africa, and this time to sub-Saharan Africa in Cape Town, to celebrate the progress made, and renew our profession’s commitment to providing access to neurosurgical care for all the people of the world.
It is therefore our great pleasure and privilege to invite you to join us in Cape Town for the 18th WFNS World Congress of Neurosurgery which will bring together thousands of neurosurgeons from around the world to share experience and educate and inspire the next generation.
For those seeking new insights and ideas, Cape Town has a proud history of innovation, from Alan Cormack’s Nobel Prize-winning work in developing the CT scan to the first human heart transplant by Christiaan Barnard. We will build on this legacy by offering a scientific programme that showcases the very best of what we can offer patients, with a commitment to finding ways to make this accessible to all, in line with the principles of equity, value-based care, and Global Surgery.
And so we invite you to join us in the spirit of ubuntu, the African belief that we grow as people through our interactions with other people. There is no better way to celebrate our common humanity than gathering and learning together.
View this message from Nelson Oyesiku, President – World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies