Up and at ‘em, bright and early, this morning to dash down to the bakery which caters for the ‘Breakfast’ part of my B&B. Rush back to the Grand Krasnapolsky to retrieve my poster tube from Jill Pickering’s room so I can put it up between 8:00 and 9:00 am, as instructed . . . only to be told that this would now be put up at 12:00 pm after Princess Beatrix had left the building!
Princess Beatrix abdicated from her position as Queen to be succeeded her son in April this year after reigning for 33 years. You can read more about her here.
This much-heralded royal visit was full of the security precautions one would expect. Unfortunately, these included not being able to take any photos – although we were told that some official photos would be made available on the Conference website at some stage. The following photo is included here courtesy of the Princess Beatrix Muscle Fund website (in Dutch).
It was also interesting that before the Princess entered the room, the area in her immediate vicinity was swept clean by the security staff while we were at morning tea. Along with many others, Sue Mackenzie had left her conference bag on her seat and returned to find it gone, together with her wallet, keys, and a number of other personal items. Sue was beside herself, not knowing where her bag had disappeared to, but once the Princess was in the room, the doors were actually locked so no-one could enter or exit until she left again an hour later. Anyway, it all ends well, and Sue was reunited with her bag which was left at the conference organiser’s office.
I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but the square in front of the hotel was closed off later this afternoon due to a bomb threat. The hotel‘s front doors were closed and all the restaurants fronting the square were cleared, which would have lost them a lot of business, I’d imagine. This was still going on at 7:00 pm after our ‘City Welcome Reception’, so when John Tierney, me, and a couple of ‘stray’ Australians wanted to find somewhere for dinner, we had to head out the back door!
I say ‘stray’ Australians because I had no knowledge of ACT-based Noella’s, and her daughter, Alice’s, attendance. They had found out about the conference on Polio Australia’s website, but had not had anything else to do with the post-polio community. However, we all had a lovely dinner and John and I gave them a run-down on what Polio Australia is all about, and convinced Noella to sign up to the Australian Polio Register.
Most of the morning sessions were general overviews of polio eradication efforts and the Late Effects of Polio. Gareth Williams, UK-based GP and author of “Paralysed with Fear”, also presented the epidemic years as detailed in his book, which was interesting and entertaining.
Because I’m not all that knowledgeable about ventilator support, I attended a session with three speakers who addressed the subject. The first was Rene Vercoutre who uses a tracheostomy and has been dependent on a ventilator since he contracted polio as a child. Those of us who couldn’t speak Dutch got first-hand experience of the wonderful translation services more generally being provided in Dutch, French, and German, as Rene spoke no English. I’d always been curious how the translators worked, so now I know!
Later in the afternoon, I sat in on a session titled “International exchange of experiences in post-polio clinics” where we heard what was going on in Lund-Sweden, Germany, and Spain (Catalonia). I am, once again, left envying the Scandinavian health system. The speaker, Dr Jan Lexell, told the audience that their post-polio clinic had been established in 2003 due to the advocacy work done by the post-polio community who chewed the ears of a few influential politicians. The Skane University Clinic in Lund ended up with a pile of money and were able to negotiate directly with the polio survivors to provide them with the services they wanted. Of course, I had a couple of questions for him, but the main one was “how much?”. He advised that he is running his multi-disciplinary clinic with full-time physiotherapist and occupational therapist, and part-time social worker, psychologist, and rehabilitation physician, with ready access to the orthotics department, including providing in-home assessments and modifications, all for $300,000 pa. Not a great deal in the scheme of things, is it?
For anyone who wants to read more about Princess Beatrix, I have appended information that was posted on The Princess Beatrix Muscle Fund (English translation) website after her visit today. I used “Google Translate” as it was all in Dutch, and amended a few of the more-obvious poor translations, or you could try your luck at reading the original text by clicking of the links in the headings.
Attention to post-polio
From 25 to 27 June 2014 the second European Polio Conference: “Post-Polio Syndrome – A condition without boundaries” will be held in Amsterdam. The Princess Beatrix Muscle Fund is involved in this Conference as a partner of the AMC. The Fund has in the past played a major role in the fight against polio and now also funds scientific research into the effects of this disease. The Conference covers the entire spectrum of health issues for the once-dreaded disease polio.
At the conference some 400 international participants are expected, including rehabilitation specialists, neurologists, physiotherapists, researchers and patients. It is unique that such a Conference is aimed at practitioners as well as patients. Authoritative scientists will speak, such as Dr Frans Nollet, professor in the area of post-polio syndrome (PPS), and Dr Marianne de Visser, professor of neurology at Academic Medical Center (AMC). Furthermore, there will be special sessions and workshops for PPS patients with information about research and clinical care.
The goal of the second European Polio Conference is knowledge to improve the care of the effects of polio and post-polio syndrome worldwide and continue to highlight the importance of eradicating the polio virus. The Conference seeks knowledge about these issues and to create attention-bringing global alliances.
The risk of new outbreaks outside the three countries where polio is still endemic remains high by reintroduction of the polio virus. This can happen if the vaccination rate drops due to wars, as in Syria, or less effective campaigns result from attacks on vaccination teams, as recently in Pakistan. Netherlands also runs the risk of susceptibility to further outbreaks if the virus comes into contact with unvaccinated individuals. “Polio is extremely contagious. One person in a plane who carries the virus without symptoms may be enough for an outbreak. Therefore it is important that attention to this disease does not wane.” said Dr Nollet.
For more information, see www.polioconference.com.
Princess Beatrix at Polio Conference
Patron of the Fund, HRH Princess Beatrix, was present today at the opening of the European Polio Conference in Amsterdam.
From 25 to June 27, 2014 in Amsterdam, the second European Polio Conference entitled “Post-Polio Syndrome – A condition without boundaries“. The Conference is organized by the AMC. AMC wants to transfer knowledge about the effects of polio and draw attention to the importance of eradicating the polio virus.
Attending the Conference are rehabilitation specialists, neurologists, researchers and patients from all over the world. The Princess Beatrix Muscle Fund, which the Princess has been patroness of since 1956, is a partner in the Conference.
Listen here to the radio interview about post-polio syndrome on Radio 1 on Tuesday, 24 June 2014. (In Dutch!)