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I am just back from Bucharest where IAPB supported the first national Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) symposium. This is part of the IAPB ROP programme for Russia and Eastern Europe which is funded by Eye Samaritans International, our newest IAPB member.
IAPB had been asked by the host, Dr Cristina Nitulescu to support her to raise awareness of ROP across the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in Romania, particularly to look at recent research findings and the implications for how pre-term babies are cared for, when they are screened and what treatments to give.
It was a very full day, the host had done an exceptional job of promoting the symposium and we had about 200 people there, representing every NICU in Romania of which there are 20 ‘level 3’ units and 45 ‘level 2’ units. The symposium brought together the teams who are involved in the care of babies at risk of ROP – the neonatal nurses, neonatologists and ophthalmologists, as each are critical in the treatment and care of babies at risk of ROP. To have an effective ROP programme these cadres need to work as a team and this symposium was the first opportunity for my Romanian hosts to come together to discuss their national ROP programme.
Thanks to Cristina’s energy and commitment, and the host, the Institute of Mother and Child (IOMC), both the Presidents of the National Society of Ophthalmology and the National Society of Neonatologists were present. At the end of the workshop Cristina was asked by the President of the National Society of Neonatologists to help her write a special issue on ROP for the Romanian Journal of Neonatology and the President of the National Society of Ophthalmology has asked her to present on ROP at their next meeting.
So I think the ROP ball is rolling in Romania with a lot of momentum coming from the symposium and Cristina is now looking at how to channel this into developing a National ROP Committee.
I think one of the most important parts of this symposium was to see the floor given over to presentations from nurses. Julie Flanaghan’s (the U.K.) presentation had some hard hitting messages on the importance of nurses and parents and how much nurses can do if empowered.
The symposia ran on by about an hour and a half as so much discussion was generated – much of it in Romania so I won’t elaborate here – but just to say that we all left in high spirits and were treated to a feast and a glimpse of Bucharest by night. I’d like to thank the hosts and our team – Julie Flanaghan – senior nurse, Shad Husain – neonatologist and Clare Gilbert who gave up their time to do this.