The World Congress of Podiatry is a conference dedicated to podiatrists from all over the world and is organised every 2 years by the International Federation of Podiatrists – Fédération Internationale des Podologues (FIP-IFP). The International Federation of Podiatrists was founded in 1947 and is an international not-for-profit association committed to the development of podiatric medicine around the world and to ensuring global representation to the podiatric profession as a medical specialty.
The first World Congress of Podiatry was held in 1966 and it has remained ever since then the largest international event for podiatrists, gathering together hundreds of representatives from over 40 countries.
This scientific event, now in its 23rd edition, took place from 13 to 16 of November 2019 in Miami, USA, and included oral and poster presentations, interactive workshops and an exhibition hall featuring more than 100 podiatric service providers from across the world.
The Association for Podiatry was represented at the Congress by Mrs. Norina Alinta Gâvan, Charter Member and Honorary President of the Association.
The Annual General Meeting of the International Federation of Podiatrists (FIP-IFP) preceded the World Congress of Podiatry 2019
During the General Meeting, Christian Jérôme (France), President of FIP-IFP, presented the review of the Federation’s activity for 2019, Carles Verges (Spain), Chairman of the European Council of Podiatrists (ECP) presented the targets that have been achieved and the future plans, and then the FIP-IFP delegation discussed the challenges facing the future of the Federation.
In its capacity as a FIP-IFP committee, the activities carried out by ECP are focused on advancing podiatry in the European Union, on establishing a standard framework for podiatric training, and on the cooperation between professional associations (for example, European Network of Podiatry in Higher Education).
For the European Council of Podiatrists (ECP), the year 2019 was defined by an intense activity related to the Knowledge Alliance (KA) project, advocacy, and the support of podiatry in other countries, as well as a new approach with regard to the structure and activities of this committee.
The consensus reached during the General Meeting shows the need for a shared identity in the field of podiatry based on defining the scope of practice of podiatrists worldwide and drawing from successful practices around the world. In other words, the goal is to achieve the harmonisation of podiatry, so that all podiatrists follow the same standards and practices.
Furthermore, another item on the agenda of the general meeting was the vote for the approval of the Romanian Association for Podiatry as a member of the International Federation of Podiatrists (FIP-IFP). Following the vote, the Association for Podiatry has joined the large FIP-IFP family. It was an important achievement for us and we wish to express our gratitude to all who support our activity and help us in promoting and developing the podiatric profession in Romania.
Podiatry – the only “footwear” we receive during our lifetime
The current situation of foot health worldwide is insufficiently known, and the burden of health issues related to the foot is significant. These problems may be life-threatening or create such a strong discomfort that they affect the patients’ quality of life.
Podiatry is the only solution for optimal foot care. In other words, podiatry is the only “footwear” we receive during our lifetime. Similar to our everyday footwear, podiatry protects the foot and ankle and takes care of their health.
The World Congress of Podiatry provided an opportunity to learn from thought leaders in this field and to showcase the podiatric profession to the world. The International Federation of Podiatrists is the authoritative community in this field and acts as the voice of podiatry worldwide. Its work within the framework of the Congress, alongside the activities carried out at national level by member associations will contribute to the advancement of podiatry for the benefit of those suffering from different foot and ankle conditions.
First of all, it is important to remember that podiatry is an independent profession. Patients may approach this healthcare professional either directly, or by referral from another physician.
The podiatrist is entitled to prescribe, diagnose, and recommend additional investigations to be performed by another physician, is part of the multidisciplinary team, requires access to medical records, is able to access and participate in scientific research, uses evidence-based medicine in their activity, and follows the code of medical conduct and ethics.
Moreover, this profession can bring added value to the field of healthcare and draw attention towards both the negative effects of their absence, as well as the positive impact of their presence in the multidisciplinary diabetes care teams.
Podiatry – the best-kept secret in medicine
According to the definition provided by the International Federation of Podiatrists (FIP-IFP), podiatry is the profession of health sciences concerned with the research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of deformities, pathologies, and injuries of the foot and associated structures – in relation with the whole body, as well as with the manifestations of systemic diseases – by all appropriate systems and technologies using scientific and professional expert knowledge.
A podiatrist is a highly qualified health professional who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of conditions and complications related to the feet, ankles, and lower limbs in general. This profession requires a high level of medical education; therefore a university degree is needed in order to practice it.
Podiatry is more than the medical profession that takes care of feet. It offers general well-being, it saves feet, it fortifies athletes, it improves overall health, and widens people’s horizon.
In addition to multiple fields in which podiatry has a major contribution, such as pediatric podiatry and sports podiatry, podiatric biomechanics, podiatric dermatology or forensic podiatry, this science of providing medical care to the feet plays an active and essential role in the management of diabetes.
Podiatrists are recognised as protectors of patients suffering from diabetes and complications related to the feet. Unfortunately, access to podiatric care still remains a privilege reserved to a select number of countries. In this context, the role played by the World Congress of Podiatry becomes even more important for the purpose of harmonising and advancing podiatry, in a way that it becomes integrated with the healthcare systems around the world.
“Podiatry is the best kept secret in medicine and this must change. Integration of podiatrists in the healthcare system is a major necessity in a patient-focused model of care, aimed at improving the quality of life, the efficiency, and costs related to the patients’ healthcare. We hope that this will be an opportunity to raise awareness of this profession and the need to integrate podiatrists across the world in a multidisciplinary diabetic foot care team, for the purpose of preventing amputations and save lives”, said Mr. Christian Jérôme, president of FIP-IFIP.
The Association for Podiatry is now part of the FIP-IFP community
The Romanian Association for Podiatry was founded in April 2015, and was the first such association in our country, and even in the Eastern and Central Europe. In a fairly short time after its creation, three editions of the National Podiatry Congress and Summer School were held, each with remarkable international participation, several training courses for physicians and nurses were organised, and work was started on preparing the file required to create a master’s degree program at the “Iuliu Hațieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca.
Perhaps our most important success was to obtain, at the end of 2018, the approval issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice to introduce the podiatric profession in the “Classification of occupations in Romania (COR)”, and last but not least, the inclusion of our Association in FIP-IFP, on the occasion of the 23rd World Congress of Podiatry.
Thus, the journey of the Association for Podiatry goes on, since November 2019, as a member of the International Federation of Podiatrists. It is a relatively new territory for us. We are confident that we will be an active member and we’ll be able to work better to advance and develop podiatry in Romania, as well as to represent this field at international level.