Success of FFN Virtual Regional Expert Meetings
Over the weekend of 24-25 October 2020 unique, multidisciplinary, free online Fragility Fracture Network meetings and education events took place - simultaneously (adjusted for time zones) in Asia Pacific and Europe (both in English), and Latin America (in Spanish and Portuguese). The meetings were hosted using a state-of-the-art virtual meeting platform to deliver engaging, interactive, and informative presentations, workshops, and poster exhibitions, as well as industry sponsored exhibition booths and satellite symposia, with live networking opportunities throughout. It would have been possible, but perhaps crazy, to join sessions 24 hours a day over the whole weekend. More than 3000 delegates registered for the three meetings and they were able to ask questions using a chat function during the interactive sessions.
This has been an ambitious event that has enabled fragility fracture clinicians, researchers, scientists, activists, and partners to interact in a truly global way, despite the restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also leads the way for further global, regional and national FFN events including a virtual element to the 2021 global congress in Toronto 28 September – 1 October 2021. The success of the meetings has been assured by the hard work of the FFN Regionalisation Committee, led by committee president Professor David Marsh.
Opening remarks of all three meetings highlighted the global problem of fragility fractures and the work of FFN in bringing the need for skilled, expert, multidisciplinary care to global attention. The four pillars of FFN’s Call to Action (CtA) was highlighted in each of the regional meetings over the weekend. Presentations, plenaries, breakout sessions, symposia, and live panel Q&A sessions generated discussion about how to drive positive change globally and in individual countries, and covered all the pillars of the CtA.
In each of the Regional Expert Meetings, Professor David Marsh launched two FFN Toolkits to support implementation of the Global Call to Action. The first is the "FFN Clinical Tookit" which provides a guide to practical implementation of the CtA. The second is the "FFN Policy Toolkit which provides guidance and support for colleagues seeking to engage with policymakers to enable implementation of the CtA. These can be downloaded from https://www.fragilityfracturenetwork.org/cta/ and from the SOSFA website.
Recordings of the presentations delivered during all three meetings can be found on the following FFN websites:
· Asia Pacific Meeting (English): FFN Malaysia website: https://ffnmalaysia.wixsite.com/ffnm/aprem2020
· Southern Europe Meeting (English): FFN Greece website: https://ffngr.eu/en/southern-europe-regional-expert-meeting-of-fragility-fracture-network/
· Latin America Meeting (Spanish and Portuguese) : FFN Brazil website : https://ffngr.eu/en/southern-europe-regional-expert-meeting-of-fragility-fracture-network/
This great success paves the way for future FFN meetings, events and congresses to be partially of fully virtual in the future with subsequent ability to reach wider audiences globally, using technology and face to face communication to their best advantage.
SOSFA strongly endorses the two FFN toolkits and encourages clinicians, heath professionals, advocates and policymakers in Australia to draw upon the toolkits to improve the way the Australian health system handles fragility fractures.