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Words on Wounds

A forum to discuss the latest news and ideas in skin and wound care.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

From the IIWCC and IIWCG to the WUWHS: The Journey to the Future

In this post, I describe my background and journey to becoming the first nurse and woman to lead the World Union of Wound Healing Societies (WUWHS), as well as the lessons we have all learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how they apply to the upcoming WUWHS Congress to be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), March 1 through 5, 2022.​

I strongly believe in the power of education, which I have used to connect my passion for service with knowledge and excellent patient care delivery. With profound interest and excitement, I began my wound care journey by enrolling and successfully graduating with high marks from the International Interprofessional Wound Care Course (IIWCC) in Iran in 2007. The theoretical background from the course solidified my knowledge about wound care but it was my passion for wound care education in UAE that changed my career. In 2010, the First Abu Dhabi Wound Care Conference was born under my chairmanship. Since then, the annual conference has been a premier event for wound care enthusiasts across the Middle East. The conference aims to present the latest evidence-based practices from around the globe. Subsequently, our team also began hosting the IIWCC in Abu Dhabi. Around 500 nurses, doctors, and allied health graduates have since begun to shape the landscape of the region in terms of wound care.

Alongside the other graduates of the IIWCC in Abu Dhabi, I created an association to uplift a common vision for wound care. I am the Founder and President of the International Interprofessional Wound Care Group (IIWCG), which is a registered association of the Dubai Association Center. Another initiative to strengthen wound care in Middle East was to focus on continuing education, which led me to be the Founder and Director of the Ostomy Care and Management, which started in Abu Dhabi 4 years ago. Aiming even higher, I submitted a bid to host the WUWHS Congress during their last conference in Florence, Italy in 2016. Of the five countries that applied, we successfully won the bid and I now currently serve as President of the WUWHS, the first nurse and woman to do so. Further, the UAE is the first country in the Middle East to host the Congress. The WUWHS conference was postponed from March 2020 because of COVID-19; a hybrid WUWHS Congress will take place in March 2022 instead.

As with any planned event, the WUWHS Congress was deeply affected by the pandemic. Immense organizations like the WUWHS change either because they want to or because they have to. The latter was the case with the global coronavirus pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 is still felt globally in 2021, with powerful lessons learnt in a very short time. The virus taught us that clear voices and respectful messages have the power to significantly expand science and bridge cultural differences in real time. Regardless of profession or race, color, or creed, we healthcare professionals remained standing when many were brought low by the pandemic. We had to share skills and teach them to others fast, who in turn taught it to others and again to others. Skill acquisition and the rapid application of new skills to clinical practice became a priority as time suddenly became a prized commodity when patients started to overwhelm healthcare systems during the second and third waves of infection. Each profession was automatically granted a voice and a place on the team they served, in that manner to save lives through plans drafted sometimes on the spot. Suddenly the interprofessional team was not a far-fetched ideal, but a vital necessity.

In fact, we have realized that we are all members of a worldwide interprofessional team. The global impacts of COVID-19 taught us including the societies of all continents in the world on equal terms is feasible, and we have a lot to learn from each other. Challenges previously only experienced by some countries and societies are now global challenges for all. Successful strategies in overcoming those hurdles not only need to be shared, but should be preserved for the next generation of wound care professionals.

For me, it is of paramount importance that the WUWHS remain an organization where societies have the opportunity to share and showcase their wound-related initiatives and projects freely. In that manner, we can learn from each other without anyone reinventing the wheel. Our vision was and still is to position WUWHS as a flagship for wound care in the world by incorporating as many societies as possible, from all continents of the world under its banner. With compassion, respect, and transparency, the WUWHS is now moving toward inclusivity with minor adaptations and enhancements to existing processes, such as the hybrid conference model. Not only does this align our vision to wound care around the world, but it also serves as a powerful shared learning environment to be developed and made available to all. This vision was already partially achieved by the expansion of the WUWHS structure to include an International Affairs committee taking responsibility for shared governance of WUWHS. Each continent in the world is already represented in the teams of subcommittees of this branch. This International Affairs committee immediately embraced the wider horizon of shared responsibilities, positively impacting the position of WUWHS as the world class organization it is.

The aim of WUWHS' rebirth is to incorporate an inclusive perspective of the organization in a positive way that will empower others on their wound care journey. The future promises innovative platforms of ideas and solutions based on evidence, networking, teambuilding, education, research, and publication opportunities under this banner. Reverse innovation and creative solutions to complex problems are still the answer where resources are scarce. Incorporation of these lessons while still embracing complex advances to the science of wound care, remain the reason why WUWHS exists and will thrive in future. By empowering our supporting societies, the WUWHS in turn is empowered to enhance the Congress scheduled for Abu Dhabi, March 1-5, 2022.

During the Congress and beyond, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to bring wound prevention to the global forefront as a vital international priority. The preventive lessons and practical implementation of COVID-19 measures have taught the world that primary care and public health are of immense value, if consistently promoted. As a wound care fraternity, we have clearly received and lived that message, as many of us were on the frontlines of COVID-19, wielding a wide spectrum of skill sets that could be pooled and transferred into frontline duty. We realized that the same can be done in proactively preventing and addressing the chronic disease burdens and subsequent skin deterioration outcomes of our own patient populations, simply by pooling our resources. Prevention saves money, preserves dignity, and most of all, saves lives. As a worldwide society, we are perfectly positioned to meet this challenge right now and position wound prevention as the legacy of the WUWHS. Not only will it change lives, but provide lessons for those to come.