Forgive me for writing to you with such haste. Recognize that I am writing stream-of-consciousness onboard the plane, heading from Hanoi, Vietnam to the third World Vitiligo Day conference, — this time in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. I am emotionally overwhelmed and trying to assimilate the most stimulating and overpowering of annual event for our community.
In retrospect, speakers in Houston discussed the current state of affairs and looked out over the horizon. Both kinds were equally important, and their presentations were certainly worth the price of registration fee. All speakers didn’t just fly in and out, they stayed for all three days, — both to meet other speakers and meet 300+ attendees. It was a wonderful experience!
WVD conference in Hanoi had a family-like atmosphere, where everyone comes with their own gifts. Dr. Nguyen Van Thuong introduced speakers and delegates, and dashed through the numerous WVD activities at the National Hospital of Dermatology and Venereology, and around the country. He set the overall tone for the day in a language I couldn’t understand, but bursts of positive emotions were going through the roof.
Davinder Parsad from Chandigarh, India is one the world’s leading experts on vitiligo surgery and other treatments. His excellent presentation “A journey: tissue graft to cellular graft” included several educational videos. Later, Prof. Parsad performed a live demo of a transplantation technique, calmly explaining intricate details of the procedure to Vietnamese colleagues and dermatology residents.
Michael Tirant’s deck of slides on “Viruses, Superantigens and Vitiligo” made me think to re-open our own investigation into the matter. Apparently, Epstein-Barra virus isn’t that insipid and may cause an adverse chain reaction that result in a vitiligo patch. Prof. Tirant's second presentation focused on lifestyle and dietary choices for vitiligo patients. Every slide was loaded with multiple bullet points to convince the non-believers.
Torello Lotti needs no introduction. His invaluable contributions to the campaign are innumerable. Without him, we might not even have the World Vitiligo Day at all! A charismatic speaker, Prof. Lotti is surely enjoying large audiences that are keen to learn about vitiligo from the top expert in the field.
If Michael is more like a shotgun, Torello is a high-velocity machine gun with 100+ slides in his deck. His lecture on “Herbal Treatment of Vitiligo” resonates with the local traditions that aim to balance mind and body with the nature itself. The next generation of herbal treatments — either cosmeceuticals or nutraceuticals — might provide the necessary relief to the patients that choose traditional medicine over pharmaceutical products.
I could go on and on about the other speakers. Prof. Nawaf B.S.N. Al-Mutairi discussed the situation of vitiligo in the country and patient’s quality of life, while Prof. Nguyen Trong Hao shed light on photoaging-induced melasma.
Needless to say, June 25th marked another record with nearly 800 patient attendees in two days. You have to see this incredible dance show performed by vitiligans from all over the country. Congratulations to the dozens of winners of the donation prize draw!
Now, I know you wish you could’ve been there. I wish you had been there too. Your personal presence would have made it even better. Why not make plans for the next year now?
In 2020, the World Vitiligo Day headquarters will continue its international journey and move from Hanoi to Belgrade – the outspoken, proud and audacious capital city of Serbia. Dr. Aleksandra Vojvodic is now an international WVD 2020 Ambassador and coordinator, with the help of the Serbian vitiligo support group led by Slobodanka Mijatovi.
Lastly, a world of thanks to Vitilinex, the WVD International conference sponsor. This Australia-based company developed a range of herbal products for vitiligo and other skin conditions. Research indicates that Vitilinex® herbal bio-active ingredients in combination with nbUVB may be an effective treatment option for 87% vitiligo patients of Asian origin that participated in a study (download pdf).
Will be back with a report from Shymkent in a couple of days,
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