Twenty twenty was a year unlike any other. COVID19 has impacted on every facet of our lives both personal and professional. Uncertainty and anxiety have fueled societal instability and the medical field is no exception. Controversy and differences in opinion have often impacted on our ability to contain the pandemic. As new information and knowledge emerges, we are asked to adapt and assimilate, often having to negotiate the ‘evidence’ with artful experience.
Nephrologists have been on the ‘front line’ of the response to the pandemic. Our patients are vulnerable for a variety of well described reasons. Chronic kidney disease, dialysis, transplant status, immune suppression, diabetes mellitus and hypertension are all risk factors for more severe COVID19. These conditions comprise most of our practice. Nephrologists around the country have put their gloves (and other PPE!) on, and have committed themselves to the well being of their patients. Our members embodied a spirit of community, commitment, and co-operation in serving society. Through our WhatsApp group and personal communications, we have encouraged, congratulated, and consoled each other. Many of our colleagues have been ill, some critically, and we have lost some. Still, we gather ourselves and prepare for the next day and the day after. There is still work to be done…and the uncertainty of another wave.
Our society has also been undergoing renewal and reorganization. This is inevitable and necessary to keep up with the changing world we inhabit. We have changed our name from the South African (SA) Renal Society (SARS) to the SA NEPHROLOGY SOCIETY (SANS). This reflects the identity of members more accurately (and has nothing to do with a much-loathed taxation institution!). The implementation of the NHI, review of PMB definitions and a forever fluctuating policy environment means that we as a society, need to be agile and prepared. We need to update our guidelines to reflect progress and new knowledge in various areas of our practice, while being cognizant of what is possible in our unique country, trying to maximize benefit under resource constraints. Education and training of young, enthusiastic professionals, if done with passion and excellence, will ensure that future generations of our society will continue to benefit. Unfortunately, we were forced to postpone our 2020 Congress, but work is afoot to gather in some meaningful way for continued nephrology education in the coming period and I urge you to watch this space.
At the AGM last year, a new group of office bearers was elected and the EXCO was refreshed. I would like to express my appreciation to the outgoing President (Prof Graham Paget) and Secretary (Dr Vakhtang Rekhviashvili) as well as outgoing members of the EXCO whose term had expired ((Drs Theo Hattingh, Mduduzi Mashabane, , Glenda Moonsamy, Piers Stead, Professor Errol Gottlich and Ikechi Okpetchi). Prof Nicci Wearne and I have joined Dr Julian Jacobs as office bearers. We have transitioned through the early part of 2021 with great help from the outgoing members and are looking forward to being dedicated and committed servants of our society. We have adopted as a society a charter of good and ethical conduct, which was unanimously agreed upon at our AGM in December 2020. This sets forward our promise to ourselves, our colleagues and society as a whole, to be ethical, professional and to strive for excellence. I expect nothing less from myself and I know that all our members echo this. We ask that as members renew their membership, they recommit themselves to this and acknowledge their acceptance of this code.
The future remains filled with uncertainty, but I am confident that our EXCO and our members will continue to work towards improving the lives of people in South Africa. We are fully aware of the challenges we face and the significant resources in terms of experience and knowledge we have in our society. I encourage every member to feel welcome to contribute toward the goals of the society and to continue to engage with the EXCO so that we can maximize the benefit to our profession and to our people in this country.
Dr Shoyab Wadee
President, South African Nephrology Society