Welcome address by the President of The 8th SEPNWG Meeting

Dear guests,

Dear colleagues and friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the 8th Meeting of the South Eastern Europe Pediatric Nephrology Working Group.

On behalf of the organizers and on my own behalf, I am pleased to express our satisfaction that we have gathered in this number, despite the fact that a large number of colleagues gave the preference to the IPNA Congress in Venice next month.

It is my great pleasure to welcome the honorary guest at the Meeting, Prof. Dr. Otto Mehls, a friend of ours who, over the course of nearly two decades-long fruitful cooperation, has greatly contributed to development of pediatric nephrology in this region. Dear Otto, thank you for all your continued efforts and support to our attempts to advance our knowledge and practice and to keep in line with modern achievements in this field.

The Chairman of the Scientific Committee, Prof. Shaefer, is in Belgrade for the second time over the period of one year, on a mission to spread knowledge, to bring closer and to integrate the pediatric nephrology of this part of Europe into modern European trends, for which we are very grateful.

I would like to welcome all the invited speakers and express our appreciation to them for finding the time and opportunity to participate at this Meeting, despite their many commitments. Distinguished speakers, your contributions will be of great importance for us from the region, and especially for our younger colleagues.

We are grateful to the associations to which we belong, IPNA and ESPN for giving us significant support in organizing the Meeting.

I would like to welcome Prof. Dr. Georgios Konstantinidis, President of the Pediatric Association of Serbia, as an organizer of the meeting, as well as to all other colleagues present at the Meeting, the representatives of sponsors and media.

The idea of ​​closer bonding and collaboration between pediatric nephrologists in this part of Europe, which, apart from geographical and historical links, have much in common and in almost all other fields, including health care of children and adolescents, dates back to the last eighties or early  nineties years of the last century. Primarily owing to the efforts of colleagues from Serbia, Turkey and Macedonia, the first concrete arrangements were made at the IPNA Congress in London in the 1998, with the support of Prof. Ira Greifer, President of IPNA at the time, who suggested the name of our Group. The first Working Group meeting was scheduled to take place in Serbia in the 1999 or in the early 2000, but due to the NATO bombing of Serbia, it had to be postponed and was held, owing to the efforts of our colleagues from Turkey, primarily Prof. Aysin Bakkaloglu and Prof. Rezan Topaloglu, in Istanbul in the 2001. At the next meeting, held in Belgrade in the 2006, the circle of participants included almost all countries of the region, but also countries outside this geographical area, and this tendency has been continuing until this Meeting. The selection of current topics and the valuable and continuous support of the most eminent experts – speakers from Europe and occasionally from USA, contributed most to this, which can be seen in the programs of all meetings so far, including this one.

We can certainly say that the activity of the Working Group has contributed to an increase in the level of knowledge and improvement of the quality of work of pediatric nephrologists in the SEPNWG region, and thus to the improvement of health care of children and adolescents with kidney diseases. In addition, closer links established with the centers in Europe created closer cooperation within individual research projects, which often means providing of diagnostic and treatment possibilities that are not available in some countries in the region. At the same time, it they gave strong incentive to pursue opportunities in this region as well as to develop new capacities in diagnosis and treatment. Publications of authors from the SEPNWG region are increasingly appearing in well-known medical journals.

But, despite all these advances, there are still many difficulties and problems we are facing in some countries in this Region. They will be discussed at the end of this Meeting, with the hope that, by using our own and others’ experiences, we will find the best possible solutions to overcome them. The exchange of experience and the assistance of colleagues from Europe and beyond, within ESPN and IPNA, and through individual contacts and cooperation between the centers will continue to be the pivotal directions of our activity, with constant investment in educating younger colleagues who are a mainstay for a better future.

Dear colleagues, I believe it will be interesting and useful for most of you, and especially the younger ones, as we travel through SEPNWG meetings held so far, to remind ourselves of our past meetings and gatherings, topics and participants. I thank my dear colleagues who helped me to complete this presentation: Rezan Topaloglu, Amira Peco Antić, Danka Pokrajac, Velibor Tasić, and Adrian Lungu.

As I said, the 1st Meeting was held in Istanbul, with the great efforts of our Turkish colleagues, with attending large number of participants, and with lecturers from Europe and the Region; we agreed to continue the future teaching activities and meetings at every two years.  

However, it took us five years until the 2nd Meeting in Belgrade was held, gathering a lot of colleagues from the Region and outside it.

The next three Meetings has been held in conjunction with national congresses:

– the 3rd meeting at Kapadokya, in the 2008, during the 5th Congress of the pediatric nephrologists of Turkey;

– the 4th Meeting at the Ohrid Lake in North Macedonia during the 4th Congress of Macedonian Society of Nephrology;

– the 5th Meeting was held in Sarajevo, in the 2012, conjoined with the 4th Congress of Nephrology of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with attendance of 100 participants and nineteen speakers from 9 countries; beginning with this Meeting, next two were held each year;

– the 6th Meeting was held in Skopje, Macedonia, in the 2016, containing 8 sessions and encompassing various topics in pediatric nephrology;

– the previous, 7th Meeting was held two years ago in Bucharest and included an IPNA teaching course on personalized genomics in pediatric nephrology with the largest number of participants so far, and with 27 speakers from 15 countries, some of them are also present today.

In our journey we came to the present Meeting, taking place for the 2nd time in Belgrade.

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

We believe that the ambitious program of this Meeting will meet your professional expectations and, will represent, especially for younger colleagues, a significant resource and impetus for professional development. In addition, we hope that the next three days will serve to strengthen existing and establish new contacts and friendships as well as that informal companionship will also contribute to make our future cooperation even more both stronger and fruitful.

I wish you a successful work at this Meeting and a pleasant and memorable stay in Belgrade and Serbia!

Prof  Dr Radovan Bogdanović