Interview to Dr. Milan Profant: "A special atmosphere during an added-value congress"

ENT World Congress

Milan Profant
Dr. Milan Profant, MD, PhD., General Secretary of IFOS and Head of University ORL Department, Bratislava, Slovak Republic. © M.P.

"The World Congress of the International Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (IFOS), held once every four years and this year in Paris, is characterized by its very special atmosphere. This atmosphere is created by doctors from the vast global ENT-community gathering together. It is very special to meet colleagues from a hundred countries, all with their unique culture and working under hugely varying circumstances.

IFOS sees for itself an important task as partner in training and education. This is refl ected by the high level scientifi c program, ensured by IFOS in close collaboration with the French otorhinolaryngology society SFORL as part of the World Congress agenda. This program with lectures and round tables, covering the full range of ENT care, holds real added value for the attendees and intends to promote best practices.

Not only does IFOS acknowledge the importance of this training and education program, it also acts upon the widely varying conditions under which colleagues worldwide do their jobs. State-of-the-art treatment is the ultimate goal, but is hard to attain when there is a shortage of instrumentation and a general shortage of means. Therefore, IFOS makes a point of offering special conditions to colleagues from less prosperous areas in the world in order to enable them to attend.”

Hearing implants and newborn screening

“Especially in the fi eld of audiology a lot of new technology has been developed. Hearing implants are introduced in more variants, including full trans-cutaneous solutions for bone conducting implants, active middle-ear implants and implants for direct cochlea stimulation for treatment of advanced otosclerosis. Lectures will be held to enlighten the attendants on the possibilities, but also on the limitations and thresholds regarding these new technologies, based on experiences with patient groups over a longer period of time.

A hot topic in audiology is also the hearing screening for newborns. National screening programs can be in place, but is there also a control of the effectiveness of the screenings built in? Moreover, training and information are necessary for countries where screening programs have yet to be introduced.”

WHO resolution

“IFOS promotes these efforts and actively draws attention for hearing impairment. It is good news and a real success for all those participating in the initiative that during the recent World Health Assembly of the WHO in May a new resolution on hearing impairment was accepted. IFOS has been working hard on that. A resolution like this can have a very important signaling function to urge countries to act, for instance in the part of the world where I live, Eastern Europe. When you as an ENT doctor ask for support of hearing care at the authorities, it is regarded and treated as a local need. But once there is a WHO resolution to back-up your request, it becomes a different matter altogether. A worldwide shared view has so much more impact. It opens doors to really get the message across to the decision makers in your country. I am therefore very grateful that we can announce this achievement during our own world congress.”

Knowledge distribution

“IFOS as the federation of national ENT societies acknowledges that the bulk of the actual training and education task is carried out by the various hard working national ENT societies. We have a great program running during this venue, but we also are aware of the fact that the seemingly massive attendance here in Paris reaches only a tiny fraction of the 150,000 ENT doctors worldwide. We are in Europe now and on this continent some 25,000 ENT doctors are doing their best for patients on a day-to-day basis. Of those, a couple of hundreds are present at our world congress. So when you meet your colleagues after returning: spread the word of what you have learned here.

The national ENT congresses already reach a larger percentage of the doctors and therefore play an important role in the distribution of new knowledge, novel technologies and innovation, training and education. We cannot emphasize the importance of knowledge distribution enough. Therefore, IFOS started an education and training program aimed at ENT specialists at work in developing regions in the world. Last April I attended a three-day Temporal Bone Surgical Dissection Course in Harare, Zimbabwe. Twenty-five ENT doctors from nine countries in Sub-Sahara Africa attended. These basic operation skills for treatment of inflammations is highly important for this region. The course was really successful and we are grateful that we as IFOS could contribute to that. The plan is to continue along these lines in other developing areas such as East Asia and Central America. Our field has established important achievements and we must see to it that people who need treatment can make use of these accomplishments.”


“A World Congress with general assembly always has some fixed program items, regarding for instance the succession of the IFOS staffing and of course the choice for the upcoming venue in 2021. We have a shortlist of five excellent candidate cities from all over the world: Buenos Aires, Dubai, Marrakesh, Vancouver and Yokohama. One of these candidates will have the hard task to follow in the tracks of the French organization, which for instance did an outstanding job in introducing new technology, so that all information about the congress can be attained on the smartphone. I am sure that the gala dinner for 1,500 people under the pyramid in the Louvre gallery will be unforgettable experience.

We are also very pleased with the 85 companies – among them many representatives from the audiology field – who have confirmed their presence on the exhibition accompanying the congress. Their presentations, offering the opportunity to become familiar with new technologies, is an integral part of the educational aspects during this world congress. A visit is warmly recommended.”

Interview by Leendert van der Ent