Professor Jesus Lafuente is president of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS)
Prof. David B. Vodušek (DV): The European Association of Neurosurgical Societies’ structure is somehow similar to that of the EAN as both societies have European member societies as well as individual members worldwide. Can you please illustrate to the EAN Pages’ readers how the EANS structures its work with these two different groups of members?
Prof. Jesus Lafuente (JL): The EANS started out as a federation of national societies yet it is also increasingly an association that has an active individual membership; this is supported and structured in its constitution. Membership is thus represented dually, at the National Society’s level, but also- and perhaps more importantly for the jobbing clinician- at the individual and personal level.
This has led to a dynamic dualism that is very synergistic. The leadership structure is also supportive and supported of this dualism, which leadership and Board positions being open to both National delegates and IM delegates.
The structure includes Subspecialty Sections, which address clinical issues; and Committees, which provide a forum of encounter and activity on inter boundary matters.
A major focus is education and this spans the range from trainee to advanced specialist. Both the National Society delegates and the Individual Members provide real support to the courses, workshops and congresses.
DV: EAN has formal connections to several “related” societies. Does the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies’ have also such collaborations in place?
JL: Similar to EAN, EANS believes that connections to related or sister societies is crucial for their improvement and development. This connections help neurosurgery in developing programs that can and will result in game-changers for neurosurgical patients. The EANS has strong links with all neurosurgical continental societies as well as with the WFNS (world federation of neurosurgical societies). Such is so that during our annual congress, this societies have a slot of half a day where the present their topics, projects and new developments. Being the EANS, mainly a training society we have interlinked with all this societies to create a Global education-working group with the intention of providing standard neurosurgical training with the final goal of standardization of neurosurgical care around the globe (GLOBAL EDUCATION). This global education includes a program of training in the third world countries, selecting trainees which will have a period of training in an European country to come back to their in their own country centre with the support of neurosurgical trainees provided from the EANS training workforce (GLOBAL SURGERY). The implementation of this program with the help of our entire sister societies and particularly with the WFNS is imminent and we hope the results to be spectacular.
EANS has pioneered training in neurosurgery for the last 50 years, and our society members are very proud but feel the need to move a step forward. Is for this reason that we have invited the Latin American society of Neurosurgery (FLANC) to implement our training courses with our own faculty support. Training courses include theoretical and hands on courses with the clear objective of trying to standardize training between Europe and Latin America and with the hope that we can move forward in the near future towards Africa, Asia. We are working with the Americans in the curriculum through the Global education Working group (GEWG)
The first of these courses will occur this coming year in Cartagena de India’s, Colombia, and we expect the participation of 1500 residents from all over the Latin American countries.
DV: EAN aims at establishing direct cooperation with neurology related scientific associations Europe wide. Neurosurgery is closely linked to neurology in taking care of several groups of patients. Do you see a need or potential for a more direct cooperation between both societies? What would be your priorities in a potential collaboration?
JL: As mention before EANS has stablished strong and fruitful relations with her sister societies in a transversal fashion. We also believe that EANS should work vertically with societies that share same pathologies (medicals such as Neurology, endocrinology, psychiatry …or surgical such as ENT, Ophthalmology, head and neck ect…). I think there should be working groups pathology related, directed in a multidisciplinary fashion, were all players should stablish agreed protocols taking into account all different aspects of such pathologies.
Individually between EAN and EANS there are a great deal we can and have to work on. Pathologies such as epilepsy and movement disorders need a stronger relationship and commitment from both sides to establish protocols of action and management pathways.
Vascular SAH, together with Intensive care specialists should also have stronger links to help improve management results in a high deadly disease were the role of quick acting protocols similar to ictus protocols could save more lives. To help to achieve these goals I believe both presidents from EAN and EANS should attend their respective annual meetings supported by the responsible of epilepsy, vascular and movement disorders to start, booking rooms for open discussions in the various subjects to be discuss.
We, the EANS support strongly this initiative and will be looking forward to start preliminary conversations with clear objectives and time targets. We hope EAN is at the same page and honor this relationship.
DV: The EANS has been a full member of the European Brain Council, but has had some doubts on the value of such membership. What is your present position?
JL: The EANS had known about EBC during our last presidency. They idea of having all groups of related specialties/ societies to the brain working together is a good one, however there was a feeling from the board that insufficient information had been provided to us initially. EANS is keen in being part as full member of the EBC, for that reason, we requested the presence of the directors of EBC as well as representatives of all four main societies (Neurology, Psychiatry, neurosciences & pharmacology). This meeting occurred during our national society meeting in Brussels last October, and I think it was quite satisfactory. EBC works as a great public relations trying to present brain related projects to important European fund organizations with the view of helping us to recruit money to fulfill this projects. This is a haunting task and we appreciate the effort.
However EANS is clearly the smallest society of all full members, and for this reason we believe that is unjust to have to pay the same amount of money than other organizations where income from the annual congress itself are 4 or 5 times bigger. Anyhow, we suggested that we would be keen on entering the full membership fee if EBC, as a token of generosity, and taking into account the smaller numbers of members in our society and lower incomes, could granted us with an office space at the EBC in Brussels for office tasks. We had a partly unsatisfactory response so far, however being aware of the importance of EBC; the EANS board will be meeting in March with the view of a final decision on this matter.
At least, all the members of the board of EANS are fully aware of the function of EBC, and believe is a great one. I agree that we all should be part of it but membership should be considered with regards of the number of members and annual benefit income of the society rather than a full membership fee equal to all societies.
DV: Dear Prof. Lafuente, thank you for this very informative interview. We wish you and EANS all the best and look forward to working together.
by David B. Vodušek, Chair, EAN European Affairs sub-Committee
Professor Vodušek is Chair of the EAN European Affairs sub-Committee and Medical Director of the Division of Neurology at the University Medical Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia.