IACAPAP President’s Message – Dec 2021
Remembering our past to advance our shared future
I would like to start by wishing our members a very blessed Christmas and a more hopeful New Year to come. The end of the year is always a time of reminiscing. History is a form of reminiscence, but it also depends on who is telling the story. It has been almost 4 years since I took on the challenge of serving IACAPAP in the role of president. I was excited because we were preparing to host the world congress in our tiny island state on the topic so close to my heart. It seemed a wonderful culmination of the development of child psychiatry in Singapore which also celebrated its jubilee in 2020. IACAPAP’s goals of advancing the science and practice of child mental health services as well as promoting child development and advocacy was moving well. We had an international team with good gender representation that hailed from all corners of the world. But like every enthralling story, new twists must present themselves to challenge the plot. What are some of these that has happened this last year?
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our regular sources of income. With our new membership model enlarging our reach with individual members, we have embarked on reorganising our administrative structure and operations including registering IACAPAP in two jurisdictions, Switzerland, and Singapore. This is to help us facilitate our operational capabilities as we work across the seven seas. This is no mean feat, and we are thankful to our administrator, Sue Wong for diligently managing this. The stress of setting up bank accounts, registering in different lands and the taxes it produces can fill most of us with “saucy doubts and fears”. Hopefully the worst is behind us and we have accomplished what I have promised, “doing good, better” by the time our world congress opens in Dubai at the end of 2022 (www.iacapap2022.com).
Two months ago, I received the sad news that Joe Rey has decided to retire from editing the IACAPAP textbook. This freely available online resource is the one jewel in the IACAPAP crown of reaching the less resourced corners of the world with knowledge that previously would be hard to access. The educational open spirit of what Joe has fashioned this last 10 years needs to continue. A new challenge of bringing this textbook forward must now be our immediate concern. Even as I write this message, a call for applications to this position is now being made (https://iacapap.org/search-for-iacapap-e-textbook-editor/).
Perhaps the greatest storyline closures this century will see is the passing on of the inimitable Michael Rutter (Professor Sir Michael Rutter 1933 – 2021 (kcl.ac.uk). In his memory, I am reminded that a generation of pioneers in child mental health are handing the baton to the next generation. Sir Michael Rutter did much to put child psychiatry on the world map and although he never took on specific roles in IACAPAP, his support and influence on the science and practice of child mental health has been remarkable. I had the good fortune of interviewing him when he was in Singapore and hearing of his passing, I went to re-read that interview which is available here (Feature.pdf (sma.org.sg).
Next year is 2022 in which IACAPAP will be 85 years old. That is a grand old age that is worth celebrating but will it be a time of integrity or despair? Will we like many organisations before us, “strut and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more”? If this narrative is to continue to hold sway, we will need the cognoscente of our shared disciplines, not just child psychiatry, but every professional interested in the emotional lives of children, to come together; we will need the curiosity of our diverse origins to combine into a universal standard for the development of today’s children; and we will need you, our gentle readers to continue to support the passion you have for children of tomorrow. Then will this story be continued…