6th World Congress on Pediatric Critical Care

Research has demonstrated that approximately 23,000 children under the age of five die unnecessarily every day. That is 960 unnecessary deaths every hour. A desire to improve this disturbing statistic was the common goal for more than 1,500 specialists who convened in Sydney over five days in March 2011 for the 6th World Congress on Pediatric Critical Care.

Congress co-Chair Dr David Schell, of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, said since the first Congress in the series in 1992, the event had become a vital forum to harness international expertise, experience and influence to improve the outcomes of children suffering from life threatening illness and injury.

"Australia has played a key role in the global development of paediatric critical care, so we were delighted that our bid to bring the 6th World Congress to Sydney was successful. In fact, this was the first time it has been hosted outside the US or Europe, which demonstrates Australia’s leadership in the field," Dr Schell said.

"The Congress attracted more than 1,500 specialists from around the world who shared their knowledge on best practice in the field, and generated practical discussions on issues of relevance to developed and developing countries – all of which will ultimately lead to better help for children who are critically ill.

"Importantly, it provided a forum to build international connections between specialists, which should lead to further global collaboration – this is a particularly important way to advance paediatric critical care around the world," he said.

In addition to exposing local specialists to global leaders, the Congress also highlighted Australian innovation, research capacity and facilities in the field.

Australia’s uniquely inclusive approach was reflected in the decision to jointly host the Congress for the first time by both the medical and critical care nursing communities – through the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society and the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses.

"In Australia, we look at the important roles played by everyone in the paediatric intensive care cycle – not only the doctors, but also the nursing and allied health staff, such as physiotherapists and psychologists. Our workshops and scientific program were structured to accommodate the diversity of skills, interests and experiences of all delegates attending, and we’re confident that this approach will set the standard for future Congresses," Dr Schell said.

"We also showcased a successful Australian initiative, the Between the Flags program, which was developed by NSW’s Clinical Excellence Commission. It’s designed to standardise and improve the way we identify, and then rapidly respond to, patients whose condition is deteriorating. We’re pleased that we are now seeing other countries take our lead by adopting a similar standardised approach to address this universal issue," he said.

Sydney provided an ideal destination for the Congress, having been selected due to both its iconic stature and the facilities it offers for such a large scale event. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre catered for the extensive scientific and educational sessions, almost 50 exhibition booths and the well attended Pre-Congress Workshops.

Almost 600 delegates also took the option of enjoying a dinner and dance cruise on Sydney Harbour. Partners of delegates participated in a well coordinated program of activities, including tours of Sydney, the Northern Beaches, a coffee cruise on Sydney Harbour and BridgeClimb. Additional Post-Congress tours were available to the Red Centre or to Far North Queensland.

Dr Schell said he was pleased with the positive feedback. "The feedback we’ve received from delegates shows that the Congress was a success. It shows that we got the program right and, very importantly, that we got the atmosphere and social events right."

Mr Jon Hutchison, CEO of Business Events Sydney – the organisation that supported the bid to bring the Congress to Australia – said he was delighted the event had delivered immediate and longstanding benefits to NSW and Australia.

"After nearly 10 years of intensive lobbying, we were pleased with Sydney’s success in securing the Congress over close competitors, Cape Town and Shanghai. While the long term benefits for the Australian paediatric critical care field are extensive, the State economy was also a direct beneficiary of the Congress, through the injection of around $6.7 million," Mr Hutchison said.