Some of you may be surprised to be receiving a second annual President’s letter from me – we will get to that later in the note!

I have just re-read my President’s letter from February last year and it provides some interesting context, as whilst I mentioned then how healthcare personnel that were supporting airlines were inundated with work related to the COVID-2019 pandemic, it also somewhat naively ended with ‘see you all in Atlanta’! As we now well know, a lot has transpired since then and the Aviation industry is presented with the most formidable challenge in its history.

COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of tragic infection and mortality rates, borders have been closed, forward bookings have been decimated along with the confidence of the travelling public and Airlines have faced unprecedented commercial and health challenges.  Aviation workers have faced differing but equally daunting challenges. For those who have continued to work, they have had to face biological threats and have had to navigate complex and onerous testing and quarantine arrangements. For others, where the work doesn’t exist, they have faced job insecurity or redundancy/furlough.

We IAMA members are, by definition, the people who support these airlines and aviation personnel in navigating these complex biopsychosocial challenges through the provision of clinical advice and support. On behalf of the industry I want to say thank you for your endeavours over the past 15 months and ask you to look after yourselves. Many of you have worked tirelessly (perhaps a misnomer) and at great personal cost in these efforts and it is important that we recognise in ourselves the risks of burnout and vicarious trauma and ensure we are supporting the supporters. 

 IAMA, AsMA and Aviation Health meetings

The pandemic has also had a significant impact on all of the regular aviation meeting programs with many shifting to online format, or, in the case of ICAM Paris meeting being deferred to September 2022.   As most of you will be aware, this year’s AsMA conference is now to be held in Denver between August 29th and September 2nd.

I mentioned at the start of this letter that I am here for a second term. As communicated in 2020, our annual meeting was cancelled along with the AsMA meeting and so the transition to President-elect Liz Wilkinson was deferred until 2021.  Given the very International nature of our membership, the Executive Committee also took a decision not to hold an IAMA meeting at this year’s AsMA conference which is now to be held in Denver between August 29th and September 2nd.

The good news is that we will be holding a virtual IAMA Scientific Meeting and Business Meeting as part of the Aviation Health Conference 2021 (AHC) which will be taking place as an online conference on the 19th and 20th October 2021: This conference is supported annually by both IAMA and IATA and is normally held in London each year.  In September 2020, the meeting was held online and the format was well received with a meeting that ran over two consecutive days:  each day there were 6 short presentations, over a 2.5 hour period, then repeated 12 hours later to accommodate different time zone. The 2021 meeting will again be online, with a similar format and will be jointly moderated by Dr David Powell, Medical Adviser to IATA and myself. 

We will also be including a Ralph Fennel sponsorship speaker and we thank United Airlines for their ongoing support for this program.  The annual IAMA business meeting will also be held during the AHC and the IAMA Presidency will transition to Dr Wilkinson at that time. 

IAMA Annual Business Meeting Agenda

In terms of the business meeting, the most pressing matter is to ratify the updates made by the Executive Council to the Association’s Bylaws after the exciting changes we voted for in 2019.  The proposed Bylaws changes are available on the current IAMA (AMDA) website and I remind you to please review the changes and in particular Article IV, related to membership. Also, please do send in any other items or proposed resolutions you may have for inclusion in the Business Meeting. We will also of course update you on the financial status of the organization as well as various administrative matters.

One decision that I am sure you will all be pleased about is that, given the current situation and with much on hold, we have decided to waive the membership fee for this year. 

IAMA Website

We are also very pleased that, due to the hard work of Past President Martin Hudson and others, we now have a new website for IAMA and this will provide a sleek platform for us to engage with our membership. We are keen to extend this engagement to social media platforms and would like to hear from any members who may have an interest in curating or providing content for these various platforms. Without being too ageist, we could really do with some Gen Y support!  We are also looking to provide members with some recognition of membership including a new lapel pin that is currently being produced.  

The website home page can be found here: Can I please ask all members to visit the site and take a look and also while you are there, please take the opportunity to update your personal details. This is most important because we want the Members Only section of the new website to be as up to date as possible.

IAMA Committee Officers

On the topic of support, I want to again thank those who continue to give freely and generously of their time to keep IAMA thriving. The organization relies heavily on the wonderful contributions of a few individual ‘quiet achievers’ and in particular Petra Illig, Matt Dumstorf and Tom Bettes.  Tom will be taking a break from his role and we thank him immensely for what he has done with the sponsorship program each year. After eight years of serving as Secretary, Petra would like to retire from this position so we are also looking for members who may have interest in taking take over this function. She is happy to provide transition assistance for as long as it takes and is looking forward to new ideas to make this position more efficient.

In closing, I wish you all the best for your ongoing challenges in 2021 and look forward to virtually seeing you all in October where we will have the opportunity to welcome our new leader Dr Elizabeth Wilkinson for her Presidency. I would again like to make a request that you think of and call or email a colleague who you think might be interested in joining our burgeoning Association.  With our improved inclusivity, we must start to benefit from the diverse range of professional skills that are supporting airlines in delivering excellent health outcomes.  There has never been a greater need for collaboration, partnership and diversity of thought in our field.

Ian Hosegood 

IAMA President 2019-2021