FIGO at 70: looking to the future
Message from Kihara Anne Beatrice, FIGO President
As we settle into 2024, I want to wish you, your society members, colleagues, families and friends a fruitful year. At FIGO, we are this year celebrating the 70-year existence of our organisation – a landmark achievement made possible by the commitment of our founding leaders, growing member societies and all those working with – and within – FIGO. Collectively, we maintain FIGO’s role as the global voice for women’s health.
The global leadership of FIGO continues to play a pivotal role in advancing our agenda of care across the life course. As FIGO President, I am proud of our commitment to the continuous advancement of leadership, technical competencies, patient health literacy, social accountability geared for positive experiences, research, and the implementation of evidence-based best practice, policy and advocacy.
Thriving in adversity
We are undoubtedly working in challenging times. We face COVID-19, global recession, refugees and migrant population, insecurity brought on by conflicts, health inequalities and inequities, weakened trade and health systems, climate change, environmental pollutants and toxins, and psycho-social challenges: these all disproportionately affect women and their children.
Against this backdrop, positive lessons have occurred. We have seen the move of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) from a global to local focus, to reflect the context of country needs. There has been an increased focus on universal access to health care, through health promotion, preventive strategies and improvements in quality of care. Innovative strategies in health delivery and services have been launched, including technological devices, vaccination programmes and self-care. Precision medicine has incorporated individualised and molecular science in screening, diagnostic and treatments. And there has been rapid development of data repositories, coupled with transdisciplinary and multi-sector partnerships.
Engaging and advocating
Such challenges call on all of us to become health diplomats. We must have meaningful engagement with duty bearers, health care providers and the communities we serve. Across 2024, FIGO is reviewing our work to ensure we have the right people in the right places to support our mission, and our member societies. Part of that work is carried out through our programmes, including our newest initiative: LDI: REACH addresses the barriers to effective coverage of four key health issues to reduce maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality.
In addition to our programmatic work, we are looking to expand the focus areas of our committees. FIGO will soon re-focus our efforts into five new areas critical to women’s health: adolescence and youth, reproduction, menopause, breast health, and technology. Our committees will work collaboratively to catalyse our life course approach and continuum of care with a focus on population demographics, SRHR, environment and development.
Partnerships for the future
We are hopeful to develop even more strategic partnerships. One such partnership is with the World Association of Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology (WATOG). Having been inaugurated under the auspices of FIGO, WATOG is now leading the path for future OBGYNs. We should all continuously strengthen our next generation of professionals.
I wish to encourage our Board of Trustees, member societies and partners to also explore twinning opportunities. As FIGO – through our Regional Trustees – localises women’s health in our five regions, we shall explore twinning opportunities. Together, north-south and south-south collaborations will accelerate us towards the sustainability and development goals (SDGs).
More immediately – as FIGO celebrates our 70th anniversary, we look to opportunities to meet, share and learn from one another. First at the FIGO Asia Oceania Regional Congress – Bali 2024, in November 2024, then at the XXV FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2025.
Collectively, we must pursue the women’s health agenda. FIGO, the global voice for women’s health, must leap onward!