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Looking forward to IFSO 2024

Updated: Apr 17

This year’s 27th IFSO World Congress returns to Australia for the first time since the 11th World Congress in Sydney in 2006. We caught up with Dr Ahmad Aly, co-organising President of the Congress to preview some of the key sessions, what’s new at this year’s meeting and what the beautiful city of Melbourne and Australia, has to offer visiting delegates…


Dr Ahmad Aly

“I am very fortunate to have Harry Frydenberg as my co-organising President, he really is the godfather of bariatric surgery here in Australia. Harry is always very generous with his time and he's very experienced, he's got a lot of contacts and he's always a good sounding board,” began Ahmad. “I've also got a great local Australian committee of very experienced, senior, energetic people who have been absolutely instrumental in helping put together the meeting. People such as Michael Talbot, Lilian Kow, Wendy Brown, Jacob Chisholm, Alex Craven and others. It's not just a Melbourne team effort, but it's an Australian one.”

Ahmad revealed that this year’s theme will be ‘Integration’ – he explained that because obesity is a chronic, progressive disease it requires treatment strategies which are multimodal, multidisciplinary, with many people coming together in an integrated way to give the best possible care for patients.


“More broadly, we need to look at things like the science of obesity and how do we integrate that with clinical practice to come up with a comprehensive strategy for helping patients suffering with obesity. The other level of integration of course is that the world is advancing technologically and at rates that we've never seen before. And then there's the Internet and now AI, how will that impact our practice and the way we deliver patients care? How will we integrate technology into not just our surgical techniques but our everyday patient care? he explained. “Integration is a broad word but in this sense we are exploring how to integrate across technology, across specialties and expertise to deliver unified obesity care? I think we will see some fascinating presentations and hopefully this will stimulate some great debates and discussions.”


Traditionally, the third day is the President’s Session, which is the only plenary that usually happens. One change at this year’s meeting will see plenary sessions held on each day of the conference – one single session in a major theatre where everyone is present.


“We're also introducing breakfast sessions which are very popular in Australian meetings and they're often a nice way to add particularly focused type themes or topics or sessions in a shorter period. The breakfast sessions are not full sessions, rather a 45-minute less formal session where a single topic can explored over coffee and croissants.”


The meeting will also aim to include elements of lived experience. Ahmad said it is important in include the patients in the discussions because patients can share with healthcare professionals some of the issues they face, which perhaps healthcare professionals do not always think about. These sessions will highlight some very important metrics from the point of view of patients and their global care and outcomes he added, because they are the ones who are living with this disease.


As ever, the first day of the Congress will have Postgraduate Courses with specifically designed curriculums running the length of the day. This year, there will be courses on Revision Surgery and Complications, Gastric Bypass and Single Anastomosis Bypass, an Endoscopy Postgraduate Course, Robotic Postgraduate Course with a hands-on and simulation component.


There will also be a course on Early Career Fundamentals, designed for aspiring professionals in metabolic bariatric surgery. This course is aimed at younger fellows and trainees where the focus will be on early career development and early career fundamentals of bariatric metabolic surgery. Essentially, the curriculum covers vital aspects of ‘getting it right’ – how to set up a bariatric practice, mastering the technical details of primary bariatric procedures and key concepts in revisional surgery, practical management of complications, post-operative care, audit, research and getting published. It is designed to equip participants with essential knowledge and skills, offering a focused educational experience tailored to the needs of early-career professionals delivered by experienced experts.


“It's not often that the IFSO World Congress is in the Asia Pacific region and for a lot of our Asia Pacific members it is hard for them to get to a Congress in Europe or the United States. And so we're really hoping that by it being in Australia, it's in their region, it's easier to get to and it's comparatively cheaper. So we're putting it out there for our younger Asia Pacific members that this is their Congress,” Ahmad enthused. “The Asia Pacific region has huge population, obesity is exploding and they are going to be the giants of bariatric surgery ten years from now. And in many areas in the Asia Pacific, it is in its relative early stages of development. There's a lot of young surgeons who are just becoming exposed to this area of surgery. And so that's why we thought it important to have a postgraduate course focusing on them specifically.”

As well as the standard demonstrations from industry, there will also be an interactive simulation hub, where industry can really showcase their technologies in an interactive way. There will also be an education lounge, that can be booked for specific presentations from any subgroup that wishes to do that or from industry and use it as a quiet space for a small group education. This will be a useful way to foster the development of transfer of information and networking at the Congress rather than just at the standard sessions.


Social events

“Of course, if Australians are known for one thing, it's a social event. Sure, we're very serious and we like our academia. But, we're always in for a good time. The convention centre is sitting right there on South Wharf and South Bank. You walk a 100 metres and you're amongst cafes, restaurants, bars, entertainment places, there's street theatre. Aside from the organised social events, there's plenty of entertainment and I'm sure people are going to have a great time. We might have actually trouble getting them to come back into the Congress! As always, there will be the Farewell Dinner on the Friday night where there's always a bit of entertainment and a few surprises, but I'm not going to let on what we've got planned. But I can tell you it will be worth it, so book your ticket for the Farewell Dinner.”


“We're developing a few competitions based on particularly Australian things. For example, ‘Strallian’ slang is pretty famous, and Australian expressions, which the rest of the world is simply do not understand. I'm interested to find out which continent, which country, which IFSO Chapter, can actually decipher these Australian slang expressions most accurately. We're running a few competitions like that and there'd be a bit of pride on the line there, as well as a few other Australian traditional games like ‘Downball’ and ‘Two Up’, and a few other things to do at your lunch times and in between sessions.”


“For many people it might be their only chance to visit Australia and so we want to make sure we host them, we give them a great time. Australians are always very hospitable and we're very proud of our country. We want to show it off, so come on down and we’ll show you a good time. Europeans just pop over to a city for the three or four days and then pop back home again. Whereas because it's in Australia, you'll have people staying for a week, ten days, maybe even longer. I know that the start of the Congress corresponds for a lot of people in Europe and the States for the beginning of the school year, but that means they're on holiday the two weeks before. So bring your families for a holiday and then send them back off to school while you do you your conference. We have a dedicated tourism agent who can help delegates to pre book and to plan their trips so that everything's all laid out when they when they register and they book their tickets. We’ll have plenty of information at the Congress as well as on the website.”


“The variety of the Australian landscape and the experiences that you can have in this big country is second to none. So have a look, decide what is your theme, whether it's cities, whether it's coast, whether it's hinterland, whether it's desert, whatever it is that you take takes your fancy. Whatever you do you’ll have a great time and we can’t wait to welcome you all to Melbourne in September!”


Additional information

For more about this year’s 27th IFSO World Congress, please click here


To organise a bespoke tour or if you have any questions regarding any tours, you are welcome to contact Sightseeing Tours Australia via an online enquiry or call on 1300 661 225 or +613 8488 7398. Note: for the best advice, mention you are attending the IFSO Congress! Alternatively, you can visit their website here




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