The WFH 2016 World Congress held this past July was a great success, welcoming a record 5,482 attendees from 137 countries. The event marked the first Congress in the U.S.A. in over 25 years.
The largest international meeting for the global bleeding disorders community was hosted at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), and the venue was an excellent fit for the needs of the WFH World Congress. The exhibit hall was well located so that attendees were never more than a few minutes’ walk from a session. All official Congress hotels were also very close to the OCCC, which helped to make the Congress experience that much more convenient for attendees.
As with previous congresses, the WFH 2016 World Congress featured in-depth scientific content, inspiring patient stories and an entertaining social program. “We offer attendees a rich mix of experiences,” explained WFH President Alain Weill. “People come to learn about the latest scientific developments for inherited bleeding disorders, but also to connect with community members and build a support network that will last a lifetime.”
The medical program featured sessions on all of the hot topics trending in the world of bleeding disorders, including a look at the extended half-life factor products, innovations in immune tolerance induction for hemophilia, management of inhibitors, gene therapy, genomic approaches to bleeding disorders, and developments in the understanding of inhibitors. The multidisciplinary program covered an equally large number of topics, such as patient care, new extended halflife products, women with hemophilia, the impact of prophylaxis on children, an update on the effect of Hepatitis C on patients with hemophilia, and aging with hemophilia. A number of the events were eligible for CME or CEU accreditation.
Many patients were at the Congress to share their stories about managing and living with a bleeding disorder and many family members were also there to share their own perspectives. Jeanne White-Ginder told her own story about being a spokesperson for people with AIDS. Kari Atkinson talked about what it was like for her family when her son Beau was diagnosed with hemophilia and an inhibitor. And Gerard O’Reilly spoke of his experience with hemophilia and Hepatitis C.
The social program was another highlight at the Congress. The Opening Ceremony followed a new panel style discussion where NHF Chair of the Board Jorge de la Riva, WFH President Alain Weill, WFH CEO Alain Baumann, and Val Bias, CEO of NHF, discussed their shared goal of supporting people with bleeding disorders. On the Tuesday, hundreds of people attended the Host Country Networking Reception at the World ShowPlace Pavilion at Epcot®. The evening featured fine dining, dancing and, of course, a totally unexpected visit by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto.
The WFH 2016 World Congress would not have been possible without the generosity of a dedicated team of volunteers. This year, 80 of those volunteers were NHF staff and staff from the local NHF Florida Chapter who lent a helping hand to our Congress right after the conclusion of NHF’s 68th Annual Meeting.
The WFH would like to thank all attendees, sponsors, and NHF for their support. After another successful Congress, we hope to see all of you in Glasgow in 2018.