WFH Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Milestone will be recognized at 2012 World Congress
Author: Sarah Ford, World Federation of Hemophilia communications manager

Thousands will gather at the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) 2012 World Congress in Paris from July 8–12 to participate in the foremost international scientific meeting on the treatment of bleeding disorders. Throughout the bustle of meetings and sessions, the community will also mark WFH’s 50th anniversary.

The late Frank Schnabel, WFH’s founder, would look proudly upon the 2012 World Congress as a sign of the global community’s strength and determination to improve care for all people with bleeding disorders. The journey to achieve treatment for all began in June 1963 when Schnabel, who had severe hemophilia A, convened a global meeting to establish an international hemophilia organization.

During the inaugural WFH meeting 50 years ago in Copenhagen, Denmark, Schnabel described the mission of the new federation in these words: “To expedite the awareness of existing knowledge and facilities, so as to alleviate the pain and plight of the world’s hemophiliacs.” The words used today have changed since then, but the spirit expressed in that early declaration remains.

What began with a meeting of representatives from 12 countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States) has grown into a global organization representing 118 national patient organizations.

The WFH 2012 World Congress continues the strong tradition of sharing knowledge and increasing understanding about bleeding disorders. It provides an opportunity for the international bleeding disorders community to gather and exchange information, both on a scientific and organizational level. This exchange of ideas has fostered new hemophilia societies and increased the capacity of existing ones.

The WFH’s Hemophilia World Congress 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, broke attendance records with more than 4,300 participants from 106 countries. The WFH hopes 2012 will be even more successful by continuing to attract a cross-section of the bleeding disorders community, including patients and their families, national patient organizations, medical professionals and researchers.

As part of the WFH’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the plenary lectures during the WFH 2012 World Congress will focus on the international history of hemophilia and inherited bleeding disorder development. They will also pay tribute to the many people in the bleeding disorders community who strive to improve treatment and care throughout the world. In addition, the medical program will include new scientific research and clinical trials, detailing future advances in treatment products and clinical care. The multidisciplinary track will cover holistic patient healthcare issues and lifestyle opportunities. Women’s and youth issues are also highlighted throughout the Congress.

During the WFH 2012 World Congress, WFH invites all members of its global family to become a driving force for the future. Approximately 75% of people with bleeding disorders still do not receive adequate care. In areas of the world where it is a struggle to access even the most basic medical care, bleeding disorders are debilitating and life-threatening. Your support of the work of the WFH and passion for achieving treatment for everyone with bleeding disorders worldwide will help lay a solid foundation for the next decade of global development, to help close the gap in care.

This 50th anniversary provides the bleeding disorders community with an opportunity to pause, reflect and commemorate all that has been done to improve diagnosis and treatment of bleeding disorders.

Schnabel and WFH’s other founding members would not recognize the world we live in now because of the vastly improved care for people with bleeding disorders. Challenges still exist, though, for those with bleeding disorders in developing countries. WFH will continue to work toward the day when treatment will be available for everyone, regardless of where they live.