From the President:
As I sit down to write this, close to 90 million people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and we are approaching 2 million deaths across the globe. Covid-19 has undoubtedly wreaked havoc on our way of life and forever changed the world. Many of us have lost loved ones, friends, patients and staff. Even those who survive Covid-19 have a higher-than-average risk of lifelong problems. Offices have closed, travel has been curtailed, international meetings suspended. Global economies have been disrupted, and our way of life is forever changed. But there truly is an end in sight. The vaccinations are here. While life won’t be back to normal immediately, 2021 will bring a “new normal,” relaxing many of the restrictions that have been placed on so many of us.
As difficult as this has been for my friends around the world, we can always look at a few “silver linings.” First and foremost, we have had a chance to spend quality time with many of our loved ones. In some ways, this pandemic, which has caused social isolation, has brought the world together, fighting a common foe, science and medicine united against Covid-19. There has been a renewed appreciation for perseverance, and how effective we can be when we put our effort and minds towards resolving complex and difficult problems. Not one, but several new vaccines were developed in record time. New therapeutics drawn from disciplines as diverse as nutrition to neuromodulation were developed to fight COVID. The internet was harnessed to rapidly disseminate information about the optimal treatment strategies. In some ways we accelerated the trends in society that were already occurring, having the normal barriers to change be broken down for us. For example, just about every practice I know integrated telemedicine as an alternative for our patients. This was initiated for safety reasons but will likely be with us in some capacity for years to come.
Physicians and health care providers in general have been recognized as first responders and true heroes in this unique war that the entire world is facing. This has led to a reinvigoration of our health care team as leaders and respected members of the community. Various aspects of health care have been reimagined for the better. We have learned that, with resolve, our ability to overcome difficulties is unmatched.
As we put 2020 in our rear-view mirror, it will be important to adapt to a new normal and redouble our efforts to help solve the worldwide pain crisis. WIP is the leading worldwide organization for addressing complex pain problems; training physicians on the state-of-the-art for pain management has been part of our DNA since inception. We are going to have to figure out how to apply the new normal to that other pandemic, chronic pain. This next year will reinvigorate our social media platforms, training and examining worldwide physicians on advances in interventional pain and reconnecting both virtually and hopefully in person.
The fact remains that pain continues to be a major health care crisis and cannot be vaccinated away. It is a leading cause of health care disability, out-of-control health care costs, and decrease in quality of life for our patients. We need “covid-like” resolve to battle this problem. We need to continue to develop and disseminate cost effective alternatives for patients with chronic pain. Chronic Pain, substance use disorders, and health care economics intersect in a manner that makes the field of interventional pain management one of the most important disciplines of medicine today. WIP’s mission of training international physicians in interventional pain to a high standard, certifying these physicians and returning them to communities around the world could not be more prescient.
I am glad 2020 is behind us, and I look forward to a very different 2021. The end is in sight, and we are off to a new normal. Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you soon!
Peter S. Staats, MD, MBA, FIPP
President, World Institute of Pain