I am honoured to address my worldwide colleagues in bronchology in my new role as the chair of the board of regents of the World Association for Bronchology (WAB). As I take over this responsibility, I wish to remind bronchologists everywhere to join and support the main mission of the WAB—to make late Professor Shigeto Ikeda's dream of bringing together the bronchoscopists in the World for the sake of disseminating the art and science of bronchology and interventional pulmonology. The previous chairmen of the WAB, Professors Shigeto Ikeda, Hirokuni Yoshimura, and Udaya B. S. Prakash have eloquently set forth the noble mission of the WAB and I intend to follow their exemplary path to meet the challenges. I am especially grateful to Professor Udaya B. S. Prakash, the immediate past chairman of the WAB, who has been an excellent teacher and advisor to me during my time as the vice-chair of the WAB.
Since the advent of bronchoscopy in 1887, the field of bronchology and interventional bronchology has demonstrated its clinical value with amazingly rapid developments in the field. The last 3 decades have shown us the spectacular advances in the newer techniques and their clinical applications that have led to life-saving therapies.
The advances in respiratory endoscopy and interventional pulmonology have greatly contributed to the vastly improved treatment of various illnesses as pulmonary infections, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, airway problems, respiratory complications in immunocompromised patients and organ transplant recipients, and other pulmonary disorders. Newer diagnostic techniques such as virtual bronchoscopy, magnification bronchoscopes, ultrathin bronchoscopes, bronchoscopic ultrasound, bronchoscopic electromagnetic navigation, narrow band imaging, and autofluorescence bronchoscopy are showing promising clinical applications.
The past 2 decades have witnessed significant contributions by bronchology and interventional pulmonology in the form of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, such as photodynamic therapy, brachytherapy, cryotherapy, laser therapy, airway dilatation, and airway stent therapy. Thoracoscopy and video-assisted thoracoscopy have not only contributed in the diagnosis and treatment of pleural illnesses but also shown their value as less aggressive alternatives to surgery in patients with lung cancer, empyema, and lung biopsy.
Taking everything into account, we can confidently state that the last 2 decades have demonstrated significant change in comparison to the previous 80 years. This can be attributed to the steady efforts of those devoted to this art who used the earlier knowledge and developments and built upon this solid foundation.
To maintain the continued progress, the scientific and clinical training of the respiratory endoscopist must rest on solid principles and remain in constant forward motion. All this is based on our tenet that diagnosing and curing the patients' illness is foremost. Although the arguments of cost-effective therapy and futility of palliative therapy in end-stage lung diseases are forcefully argued by some, such arguments should not form the basis for therapeutic nihilism in patients whose quality of life can be improved by various palliative endoscopic techniques. The satisfaction one feels, by using an endoscopic method to relieve the pain of a cancer patient and improve the quality of that patient's life, is evident in the face of the grateful patient! I believe this is what made us choose the career as physicians—to be more sensitive to the beauty of a book, a symphony or the sea, or, quoting Jean Bernard, more sensitive to all those things constituting an enduring evidence of our dignity.
The foreseeable future will show us newer clinical applications and improvement in established techniques. These dynamic changes will bring together the scientists and clinicians interested in our specialty and further expand the field. This will necessitate and stress the importance of imparting the accrued knowledge to novices entering our specialty. The WAB will actively participate in encouraging these developments by bringing together the experts and novices through communication via national and international conferences, workshops, and publications such as the Journal of Bronchology.
One of the goals of the WAB during my 4-year tenure as its chair is to complete the continuous improvements started by the previous leaders and regents of the organization. To accomplish this task, I am very fortunate to have the assistance of Professor Hiroaki Osada, the vice-chair of the WAB, the members of the board of regents and Mr Tatsuo Maeda, WAB secretary, who has been a tireless worker on behalf of the WAB and instrumental in maintaining the administrative aspects of the organization. To achieve our objectives, new committees and subcommittees are being created to address issues related to scientific, educational, financial, international relationships, World Bronchology Foundation, marketing, and world congresses. I invite members of the WAB and bronchology community at large to provide suggestions.
Finally, and on behalf of the Board of Regents, I sincerely thank the members of the WAB and sister societies for their confidence in us and request their active participation to meet our objectives.