Topics at the forum included prevention, primary care, access to specialist services, the high cost to society – and the fact that incontinence should be a public health issue.
The passion for the subject was clear as speaker after speaker agreed incontinence should be talked about more, in clinics, schools and the media, and taken seriously by policymakers, given the economic implications of a global ageing population.
The event, entitled Incontinence Care – Choosing the Right Direction, was opened on April 27 by Dr Stanislava Panova, Director of the Health Services Department at the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health.
She said: “It is not about life-saving, but about human health and especially quality of life. We have to pay more attention to the social part of incontinence.”
“It is still a very taboo subject and people are worried to talk about this with their loved ones. This must be changed, we must communicate more with people.” Mark Scorgie, Vice President of conference organisers SCA, said a more holistic approach was needed.
Ian Milsom, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who chaired GFI, said that the event was ‘special’ because it addressed a range of issues not generally covered by medical conferences.
“At medical meetings we look at pure clinical facts but GFI is influencing individuals, relatives and society. It’s very broad,” said Prof Milsom.
This was backed up by fellow speaker, Diane Newman, who is co-director of the PENN Centre for Continence and Pelvic Health in Philadelphia. She commented: “I go to a lot of professional meetings where you do not get discussions like this.”
The key aim of this year’s forum was to understand the right direction to take on this important issue.
Prof Milsom said: “In 2010, incontinence is still an under-diagnosed and under treated condition and negatively affects the quality of life of millions of people throughout the world. It’s an extremely important issue. Finding the right direction is one of the goals of GFI, so we can improve incontinence care on a global scale.”