Out & About

2023 Haematology Oncology Symposium – Keeping it real

December 1, 2023 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Dr Michael Cass gives us a brief rundown of the successful 2023 Haematology Oncology Symposium. 

You can listen to this article below, or by using your favourite podcast player at pod.link/oncologybuddies

The fields of haematology and oncology converged for an enlightening and inspiring conference that left attendees with a profound sense of purpose and an understanding of the importance of modern haematology in the context of this diverse and dynamic nation.

The theme, Keeping it Real, underscored the conference’s commitment to addressing the unique challenges and opportunities that SA presents in the field of haematological oncology.

Day 1: Setting the stage

The conference opened with a welcome from Dr Hannes Koornhof, a well-known South African haematologist, president of the South African Clinical Haematology Society and one of the organisers of the event. In his opening remarks, he emphasised the importance of keeping the focus on the real needs and challenges faced by haematologists in SA. Professor Timothy Hughes (Australia) provided an excellent summary of the state of the art of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and Dr Jaimendra Singh presented three fascinating CML cases. Dr Koornhof hosted a well-received session acknowledging several South African haematology giants. Prof Moosa Patel, Dr Mike du Toit, Dr Fatima Bassa, Dr Cecile du Toit and Prof Nicolas Novitsky were saluted for the phenomenal contributions that they have made. Prof Novitsky delivered a superb address during this session which was received with a standing ovation.

Dr Wendy Osborne (UK) and Dr Martin Hutchings (Denmark) presented an excellent lymphoma session. Dr Matthew Seftel (Canada/SA) and Dr Theo Gerdener provided valuable insights into the management of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Six high quality oral abstracts were presented by younger clinicians, pathologists and scientists. It’s truly exciting to see the high quality of research taking place at the academic institutions.

A well-attended nurses programme ran in parallel to the scientific sessions and featured sessions on ethics, psychology, patient-care and teamwork.

At the AGM, a new executive committee was elected and Professor Vernon Louw was elected as the new president. The conference was well supported by the pharmaceutical industry who provided excellent, high-quality stands and exhibits. The generous sponsorship provided by the industry made it possible for the organisers to invite the high calibre international speakers that made the conference invaluable to the SA haematology community.

Day 2: Cutting-edge research

The last day included an excellent session on high grade B-cell lymphoma presented by Dr Osborne and a thought-provoking case presented by Dr Koornhof. Dr Piet Wessels provided an important and well-received thrombosis update. The conference concluded with a fascinating overview of the myriad of new developments in the therapy of mantle cell lymphoma presented by Dr Michael Wang (Texas). Dr Michael Cass presented a case of mantle cell lymphoma treated with novel therapies and stem cell transplant.

Attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear vision for the future of haematology oncology in SA. The theme had been fully embraced, as experts and practitioners committed to addressing the real challenges faced by patients and healthcareproviders in the country.

The conference served as a testament to the resilience and dedication of South African haematologists and oncologists in their pursuit of excellence in patient care. It was a celebration of the progress made and a call to action for continued collaboration, innovation, and advocacy.

In the words of Dr Koornhof, “Our journey in haematological oncology is not without its challenges, but it’s the spirit of unity and the commitment to keeping it real that will propel us forward, ensuring that every South African has access to the best haematology care possible.” There is no doubt that the future of haematological oncology in SA is bright, compassionate, and driven by a genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of patients.

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