First and foremost I would like to thank everyone for the trust and confidence in allowing me to take on the helm. I understand that I will not be able to please everyone. But rest assured that I will work to the best of my abilities and spend as much time as possible for the primary benefit of the association, with the hope that with that I will be able please everyone.
As I have promised in my speech during the oath taking ceremonies, my presidency will not just be for 1 year. Dr. Harry Longno and the rest of the present EC does not need to worry about though as I will definitely have to step down by the end of the year. What I mean though is that the work for this year will not just be for this period. We will be planning for the next 3-5 years so that we will be best prepared and reach our full potential.
To start it off, the Executive Council has unanimously approved that the Committee Chairs be appointed to 3-year terms. These will allow the present chairmen to planned out for the next 3-5 years and provide the continuity in the program and necessary improvements in the succeeding years. We recently held a strategic planning last February wherein the chairmen presented their 3-5 year plans. These were brought up in the floor for constructive discussion and suggestions. More than that, the committees were asked to coordinate among themselves so as to maximize the functions of each committee and minimize unnecessary duplication of effort and activities. They have been asked to finalize their 3-5 year plan so we can collate it, approved, prioritize and provide the budget needed. For this, we sincerely thank the committee chairs for taking on the tasks and for the Executive Council for unanimously approving the plan.
In addition, we have already prepared the Annual and Midyear committees up to 2021, with assigned over-all chairs and scientific committee chairs. This is in line with our goal of making our conventions truly international in terms of attendance from outside our country. This is so that we will have ample time to prepare and planned out. And this is very necessary for us to be able to attract more international attendees who book their schedules 1-2 years ahead of time. And that goes for high quality speakers as well. And instead of each conventions being totally distinct and separate from each other, this set up will have all the future conventions supporting each other with the preceding meetings becoming a preparation for the next. Whatever may happen in the coming elections the over-all chairs and scientific chairs will not be changed except on resignation or when absolutely necessary.
We have also re-align some committees as well as created new ones. The outreach and skills committee have been merged under one roof. It will have an internal and external outreach subcommittees. The internal subcommittee will be the old skills committee and the external the old outreach committee. With these the outreach committee in the coming months will have 2 pronged activities with the initial idea of having a skills committee activity like TULEP, HOLEP, PCNL and Laparoscopy for the local urologists who will then apply their learned skills on the local cases the following days of the surgical mission. It is designed to save time, effort, cost and as the old cliché goes, “killing two birds with one stone”. The Men’s Health committee will now be called the Urologic Health Awareness Committee. Under this will be the subcommittees on Men’s Health Awareness, Prostate Cancer Awareness and OAB Awareness with each having their own chair and members. The Men’s Health Awareness Committee used to handle the 3 awareness campaigns and what happened was that the committee can attend to the other campaigns once the first is already done leading to poor preparation and outcome. Now, the 3 awareness campaigns can be started out early without waiting for the others to finish, yet they will still be under one big committee so they can work harmoniously and in support of each other. The Men’s Health Committee will also have under it the Media Relations sub-Committeee, to handle promotions of the lined awareness programs. The Publication committee will also have under it now the Uroscope, Website and Marketing sub- Committee. The marketing committee is new and was created to market our association particularly the conventions. In the future this might become a separate committee by itself because of its importance and scope of work. We have also created the Real Estate Acquisition committee, headed by the treasurer. This is to concretize our dream of having our own land, office or building. Our earning capacity is greatly outpaced by the rise in real property prices, so it is high time to pursue this in the following 1-5 year period. We have also formalized the technical committee, which has been in charge with the technical aspects of our conventions for the past years.
We will continue to pursue our collaboration with the European Association of Urology, which has been very supportive of our programs. This has led to the Best of EAU convention for this year, which is the first ever to be done and sanctioned by the EAU. Only about 5% of the PUA members are able to attend the EAU for several reasons and this is probably true for the rest of Southeast Asia, so why not “bring EAU to the Philippines and Southeast Asia”. As early as last year we were able to secure 8 of the speakers, chairmen of their respective sections at that, and most of them our newfound friends, honorary members of the PUA and eager to work with us. As of now we already have 10 speakers from the EAU to be working beside our own local experts. Should this be successful EAU has signified willingness to continue this partnership as either every 2 or 3 years as we desire. If we want to, we can make this a regular activity we, and our neighboring countries could eagerly look forward to. We have agreed with EAU Secretary General Prof. Christopher Chapple to form a working committee composed of people from both sides to draft the plans for the succeeding “Best of EAU” conventions.
Aside from the much bigger and ambitious annual convention, the midyear convention is also in collaboration with the EAU, more specifically the EAU Section of Andrology and Urology. So we will have this midyear “fully scientific” in terms of the scientific program. The usual family activities and post convention tours will still be there. The idea initially came out because we had access to one free speaker from the ESAU in terms of airfare and honorarium. We need to spend only for the second speaker in terms of travel and accommodation. And then we began to toy with the idea that it might be easier to attract foreign attendees with our Midyear conventions due to our beautiful island locations, though again the relatively short period of preparation limits that for now. Once again, a strong argument for planning out our conventions way, way ahead of time. And with that we have a surge of interest from the pharmaceutical industry.
More on the EAU, we will continue to send 2 senior residents, who are also registered junior members of the EAU, to the European Urology Residents Education Program (EUREP), which will be held in Prague again this September. We were given 2 special slots for this program for free starting last year, one of the few non-European countries to be given this opportunity. And much much more importantly is that EAU, through the ESU (European School of Urology), which handles the EUREP, has approved our project proposal which is the 1 day SEA-EUREP (South East Asia –EUREP). This is a mini 1 day EUREP patterned program for which our local residents and those from South East Asia can participate. As agreed upon with Prof. Palou of ESU this will a trial program and a bigger full 5-day SEA-EUREP can be done in the following years if this will be successful. The 1 day EUREP will be held on the first day of this coming annual convention.
The creation of the EAU-Philippine Chapter, the first ever chapter officially sanctioned by EAU will hopefully strengthen further our bilateral ties. It is mandated to facilitate programs between the two associations. The pre convention activities like the ESUT workshop, mini-EUREP and EBLUS programs will be mainly facilitated by the chapter. Future collaborations with EAU are being looked into and the EAU is very enthusiastic and very supportive of the programs. We will continue to explore how to maximize our membership in the EAU. Those who registered as EAU members will be automatically members of the chapter and received benefits as so.
Support from the EAU has been largely facilitated by our group membership with the EAU, which also came with the promise of sending speakers from the EAU for free except for accommodation. So it is easy to see why we have favored EAU for both the midyear and the annual conventions. And with this, I would like to make an appeal again for your continued support by continuing to be members of the EAU or registering as EAU members if you are not yet one. Hopefully there will be more inclination to attend EAU Conventions, which are very informative, state of the art and held in wonderful touristic locations. There are a lot of benefits for individual members, which for us, is at a much-reduced price of 75 euros instead of the 185, and at the same time you will also be greatly supporting the PUA. For delinquent members who would like to register again this would be the best way to avoid penalties. We will continue to ardently find ways to maximize our membership, individually and as an association. Thank you very much for your support on this matter.
This year we will try using web conferences for EC meetings and committee meetings. We are working on this with GSK through their Webex program platform. With this we hopefully will be able to get around the traffic problem besetting our meetings and lessen the load on our hardworking people by cutting down unnecessary hours, cost and hassle in traffic. With this we also hope to increase active participation of our members from the provinces in the committees and the EC as well. The Technical committee is already working on this.
For the midyear convention, we won’t be having a business meeting anymore. We will instead hold a general assembly, as mandated by our constitution, wherein we will report to the membership the activities, plans and status of the organization. And with that we will not need a quorum anymore, which we have found so much difficulty in attaining in the past years.
PUA will also be definitely going paper-less, hopefully this will be the last send out of letters to ALL membership by mail. We will still send this out through email and viber aside from snail mail so as to make sure everybody receives this message. We will harness the internet and the programs that are available for info dissemination. This will cut down on expenses and will be our contribution to the environment. We completely understand though that not everyone is comfortable and would want all communication through the internet or by phone. So attached to this letter is a return slip signifying your preference for future communications, whether you still want to received hard copies by snail mail. You can either email the return slip or take a picture of it and send it to the PUA secretariat through the internet. Plans are underway for a PUA phone app that will make information dissemination easier and faster.
Thank you for your time in reading this letter. This will be the first of quarterly reports I will be sending out. Feel free to approach us for concerns. We need your inputs and suggestions and we are more than willing to listen. More power to us. Mabuhay ang PUA!!!!
SAMUEL VINCENT G. YRASTORZA, MD