In the first article of this edition, we introduce IFHNOS, which has created a major impact on the landscape of head and neck cancer treatment and education over the past quarter of a century by offering a global platform amongst specialists and fostering camaraderie.
The need for a common platform for academic and professional interactions between specialists treating head and neck cancer worldwide was realised in the mid-1980s. A proposal was made by Jatin Shah, MD of New York to the executive council of the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons (SHNS) in 1986 to create a global organisation with the purpose of “establishing channels of communication to enhance exchange of information and improving knowledge as well as exploring new directions in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with head and neck cancer”. With its support IFHNOS was founded in 1987, with 16 founding member societies.
Over the years, it has blossomed into a major world organisation in the field of head and neck cancer, fostering education, awareness, prevention and professional camaraderie, through its various programmes. Today it has 53 member societies, from 45 nations, spanning the globe (Figure 1).
The initial programmes of IFHNOS consisted of creating a world directory of head and neck surgeons and oncologists through its member organisations. Thus IFHNOS reaches over 6000 head and neck specialists around the globe. The first World Congress was held in 1998 in Mumbai. These highly successful quadrennial congresses have been held since then in Rio De Janeiro (2002), Prague (2006), Seoul (2010) and New York City (2014). The 6th World Congress will be held in Buenos Aires (2018) and the 7th in Rome (2022). These congresses are amongst the largest gatherings with global attendance in the field of head and neck oncology (Figure 2).
Figure 2: IFHNOS World Congress locations.
An innovative educational programme called the World Tour Program of Current Concepts in Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology, was started in 2008. This biennial programme, takes six to seven global leaders in the specialty to eight to ten locations in the world, every other year in the month of October, giving a two and a half day intensive CME programme interacting with local faculty. Over 8000 doctors have benefited from these programmes given so far in 26 cities (Figure 3).
Figure 3: IFHNOS World Tour locations.
Since 2005, IFHNOS has collaborated with Head and Neck, its official journal to publish scientific articles and publicise its activities and proceedings, with publication of important papers and presentations in this leading medical journal in the specialty.
In 2014, at its 5th World Congress in New York, IFHNOS declared that July 27th be observed annually as World Head and Neck Cancer Day (WHNCD), to increase awareness, with programmes in awareness of risk factors, early diagnosis by screening and prevention with governmental support. In its first year 36 nations participated with scores of events held globally on that day (Figure 4).
Figure 4: The 36 countries who participated in World Head and Neck Cancer Day (WHNCD) 2015.
To improve standards of care for head and neck cancer, and to enhance the knowledge base and expertise of the next generation of specialists, IFHNOS started the Global Online Fellowship (GOLF), in 2014. This online fellowship programme has registered 184 fellows, from 48 countries. This tremendous effort to uplift and unify the knowledge base and judgment of young surgeons throughout the world will have its impact on the treatment and outcomes of generations of patients with head and neck cancers in the future (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Location of the 184 registered fellows of the Global Online Fellowship (GOLF) programme from 48 countries.
On its web site www.ifhnos.org, an Online Education programme is offered, where one can access actual video tapes of operative procedures performed by leading experts of the world. These videos demonstrate highlights of fine technical details of routine and complex operations, and help educate young trainees in operative techniques.
Through philanthropic support from a private family foundation, since 2014, IFHNOS has offered the International Observership Program. This programme offers travel grants to selected candidates from any part of the world for a two month observership in one of the major head and neck cancer centres in North America. Nine candidates from eight countries have benefited from this programme to date (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Location of the nine International Observership recipients.
IFHNOS has made a major impact through its various programmes on the risk factors, prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, outcomes, research and education in the field of head and neck cancer for the past 30 years. It has fostered programmes in education, training, research, awareness, early diagnosis, prevention, advances in treatment and outcomes, and has been instrumental in raising awareness of the care of patients with head and neck cancer. Above all it has provided a platform for collaboration and camaraderie among specialists from all parts of the world (Figure 7). For further information visit www.ifhnos.org.
IFHNOS is the largest global body of head and neck specialists
It holds quadrennial World Congresses
It conducts biennial CME courses through its world tour programmes globally
Its official journal is Head and Neck
It sponsors World Head and Neck Cancer day annually on 27 July
It offers a Global Online Fellowship programme
It offers online education on its website
It offers the International Observership programme.
Declaration of Competing Interests: None declared.