Dear ISSM members and friends from all the world!
We are experiencing a very delicate and unprecedented moment in our lives. I’m sure that the vast majority of us had never thought about the possibility that we could be in the situation we’re currently in. More than a half of the world population is, in one way or the other, being kept in social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not allowed to visit our relatives – even our parents – because they often are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in the first place and if they get sick then the illness hits them harder too. We cannot socialize in person with our friends after an exhausting work week and simple things like going to the mall or to a cinema or restaurant are either very challenging or completely impossible.
In the city I live and work in, Belo Horizonte in Brazil, everything has been closed since March 20th . The regular classes at schools and universities have been cancelled and I’m getting more experienced every day using online learning tools to teach my students. All the shops, malls, squares, gyms, etc. are closed. At our hospital, all elective procedures (like consultations and surgeries) have been postponed until further notice. People are scared because the pandemic here still appears to be at the early stages as they expect the peak to happen between late April and mid May.
But on the other hand, in times like these we have to see the other side of the coin too. This is an opportunity to spend extra time with your family and/or loved ones, to reach out virtually to all those relatives and good friends and let them know we care about them and tell them that we are missing them, and to reflect about our own lives and think about what we could do better. We are experiencing the opportunity to help others and the feeling of solidarity emerged from our souls. When we live adverse moments like this we also have the possibility to be better human beings afterwards.
For the first time in my life I saw many very important scientific meetings being cancelled all around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the largest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games in Japan in July, were also postponed to 2021 also due to the lack of possibilities for athletes to prepare themselves for the games.
As you all know, our World Meeting of Sexual Medicine (WMSM) is scheduled to be held in Yokohama, Japan, from 16th to 19th September this year. You can imagine all the hard work and efforts that have been done during the last 18 months to make it possible. But now, our primary concerns are the health and safety of all attendees and the patients they care for. In addition, we are seeing the impact of the travel restrictions issued by countries, academic institutions, hospitals and industry partners on the attendance of delegates, faculty and sponsors/exhibitors for our originally planned dates in next September. As we do want to guarantee the most important thing our attendees and industry partners trust us above all else to deliver – a well-attended, high-quality, premier global meeting in sexual medicine – the ISSM Executive Committee and Board of Directors decided to postpone the WMSM to next year ! The new dates are 15 to 17 November 2021!
On behalf of the officers and directors of the ISSM, I hope that all of you, including the 2500+ members in the 93 different countries you work and live in, stay safe. We care about you all, your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and those of your loved ones, families and friends. Please be safe and take good care of yourself and one another!
I am looking forward to meeting many of you at the WMSM in Japan in November 2021 with a smile on our faces, a kiss and a big hug!
Luiz Otavio Torres,