Tuesday 17 March 2015

Respect the professionals!

Today saw the start of the 16th World Conference on Tobacco Or Health (I know, I know. It should be "and". They're trying to make a point. Just ignore it.)

This year, the vast, taxpayer-funded shindig for tobacco control troughers professionals is being hosted in Abu Dhabi. And since no expense is too great for the champions of the people's health, the main residential hotel is the five star Hyatt Capital Gate.


Looks nice doesn't it? Obviously, the sun-drenched luxury of the place played no part in the decision to hold the conference there, as Simon Chapman explains...

There has never been a conference in the Middle East and with heavy smoking rates among men in particular, and generally immature tobacco control policies in place, a strong case weighed heavily in the voting for this weeks’ gathering.

Sure. It was those "immature" (read: tolerant) smoking policies that made the fearless crusaders nip over to the United Arab Emirates, presumably to lecture the locals about the dangers of shisha pipes.

However, tragically—and I am holding back the tears as I write this—things have gone a bit Pete Tong for dozens of delegates.

The three day conference started on the 17th and as I write, at least 38 registered delegates we know of [the conference website says 60 - CJS], many whose presentations had been accepted by the conference and some who were to chair sessions, are still waiting for their visas to be issued.  These are from Bangladesh (29), Iraq, Tunisia, Nigeria and Syria. They have a combined experience of over 200 years in tobacco control.

That actually only works out at 5 years experience each, but never mind that. Imagine the anguish of these poor folk pining for their spa conference.

Imagine no longer, for one of them has written to Simple Simon and he or she paints a picture of almost unbelievably sanctimonious entitlement.

I am writing to you in a situation when I am waiting at a friend’s house, packed up all my bags and posters for presentation and checking email every 6 secs...

This is seriously awful when I have prepared  my speech and I have not yet got the visa to fly. With my 12 years of  professional career I got opportunities to lead a number of  platforms on health and tobacco control. [lists his international experience]

However this experience has made my disappointment so terrific that I am truly faded [sic] up on choosing a country which doesn’t respect the professionals, experts and researchers who are leading people’s health and well-being issues in this region and worldwide."

Like the death of little Nell, it takes a heart of stone not to dissolve into tears of laughter. They should have gone to Moscow again.

I never knew the tobacco control movement could make me so happy.


Christopher Snowdon said...

They will all, I'm sure, delight in the aromatic envelopment of quality Cuban tobacco (purchased at very, very reasonable prices) as they sit sipping their coffee in the hotel lobby bar.

Christopher Snowdon said...

Also amusing, is the fact that a local hotel is offering discounted booze for conference goers. I thought Public Health were against that kind of thing?

Christopher Snowdon said...

Shame, I expect not having enough funding to tackle Ebola effectively will cast a shadow over the proceedings.

Christopher Snowdon said...

And the UK contingent, including our usual representative at large from the Department of Health, will no doubt be orgasmic that the Luther L Terry Award for Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry goes to the UK Department of Health's Tobacco Programme!