I’ve been going to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences for many years. It is a large conference welcoming at least 3,000 pharmacists from all over the world. Around 50 people usually attend from the UK but, in 2018, when FIP comes to Glasgow, it will be a wonderful opportunity for many more UK pharmacists to experience the event.
The FIP World Congress offers something for everyone. Each year, there is a special welcome event for first timers, which provides an introduction to the conference and the organisation.
The conference is divided into sections and I advise anyone attending to find the section that resonates most with them and follow that part of the programme. I am a past president of the academic section but have also been a lead on the FIP education development team (FIPEd) since 2006. Other sections include community, hospital and industrial pharmacy, social and administrative pharmacy and pharmacy information, to name but a few. Wherever your interests in pharmacy lie, you will be able to learn more at the conference and meet like-minded, committed professionals from around the world.
This year’s congress was held between 28 August 2016 and 1 September 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a very busy congress for me, with three different talks and lots of facilitation and meetings. It began with an opening ceremony featuring a speech from Carmen PeÃ±a, the FIP president, and a welcome address from the local pharmacy association, ConfederaÃ§ion FarmacÃ©utica Argentina, and Argentina’s Ministry of Health. Ten prestigious FIP fellowships were awarded, as well as a number of other awards for lifetime achievements in science and practice.
Each year the conference has an overarching theme; in 2016 it was ‘Rising to the challenge: reducing the global burden of disease’, so a lot of the main talks were on health promotion and prevention.
On the first morning, delegates came together for the plenary talks, which covered health literacy and the role of the pharmacist in reducing the global burden of disease. In the four days following, as well as plenary lectures around the main theme, there were lots of workshop style sessions.
One of my talks was on early detection of dementia, in which I was able to tell my personal story about my father’s Alzheimer’s, as well as encouraging pharmacists to play an important role in detecting dementia. In the evenings, there are receptions hosted by different countries, dinners linked to each of the conference sections and a closing dinner and FIPEd development team dinner.
I find FIP an invaluable meeting. In my academic work, international connections are really important and I am able to meet a number of collaborators, including colleagues who take our masters students for a semester-long research project. My work on pharmacy education with FIP has become one of my major research strands and has enabled me to become international editor of the American Journal of Pharmacy Education. I have particularly enjoyed working with colleagues from Africa, Thailand and Brazil on pharmacy education. FIP has just started a new pharmacy practice research special interest group where colleagues and students will be able to present their research to a global audience.
The FIP congress provides a perfect opportunity to meet people from pharmacy associations and societies all over the world and promote the RPS’s work at a global level, for example, the Faculty and our campaigns on care homes and GP pharmacists.
The RPS is seen as a global leader in pharmacy — we are working with a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Iceland and Hong Kong — and people are very interested in what we are doing. Glasgow 2018 will be a marvellous opportunity to further showcase this to the world of pharmacy. I encourage you to come to this congress to broaden your horizons, make new contacts in pharmacy and share your work.