When I took over the mantle of President at the time of the General Assembly on 26th June 2013, it was clear that I had some very large boots to fill. My predecessor, and now Immediate Past President, Mike Glynn, served IBE with dedication and hard work for the four years of his tenure and is evident from the plans and initiatives introduced during his time as President.
For the first six months of 2013, with Mike still at the helm, there was a high volume of work being undertaken to progress the work of the Bureau.
European Epilepsy Day was celebrated very successfully in the European Parliament in Brussels; an excellent meeting took place in Dublin the elections for the positions on the seven IBE Regional Committees were carried through; the IBE-ILAE European Epilepsy Forum took place in Dublin in March; a new round of the Promising Strategies Programme was arranged; the IBE website was redesigned; the 50% anniversary of the first International Epilepsy News was celebrated; and there was significant effort in finalising IBE’s activities at the 30th International Epilepsy Congress and ensuring a smooth hand-over to the incoming committee. For all of this, I would like to say ‘Thank You’.
For the second half of the year, since the end of June, my fellow committee members and I have been busy on a number of issues. In September we celebrated the 13th European Conference on Epilepsy & Society in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in which the European Regional Committee played a major role. The outcome of the conference was a disappointment with attendance numbers lower than expected due, in some measure, to high travel costs. This was a great pity because the conference programme was excellent and much appreciated by those who were with us in the charming city of Ljubljana.
A first meeting of the new IBE-ILAE Joint Task Force in Europe – Epilepsy Advocacy Europe, took place in Ljubljana and a Strategic Plan was agreed. As a next step, IBE and ILAE has been looking at options for registration in Europe, in order to be able to qualify to apply for project funding to EU funding programmes.
In October, on the invitation of our member in China, the Management Committee attended an important national meeting in Chongqing and had the opportunity to meet many members of the China Association Against Epilepsy. IBE was represented at the WHO Regional Committee annual sessions in Europe, South East Asia and Western Pacific in September and October strengthening our ties to WHO and making many important contacts.
Our Executive Director, Ann Little, spoke on behalf of IBE at a workshop in the Lithuanian Parliament in Vilnius in October, supporting our member in Lithuania in its work to improve care and treatment services for people with epilepsy.
As our members in the Latin American Region celebrated Latin American Epilepsy Day on 9th September, in Europe we were beginning to prepare for the 5th European Epilepsy Day that would take place in February 2014.
In the last few months of the year we were planning for the IBEILAE regional congresses that would take place in Cape Town, Singapore and Buenos Aires over the course of 2014 and, as the year came to a close, we were beginning to prepare an important survey of our members. This survey will play a pivotal role in the development of our Strategic Plan that would begin early in the New Year.
With best wishes to all!