Memories of the IEA Presidency
I was very astonished when in the summer of 1984 I was phoned by Professor Estlin Waters, at the time chairman of the nominating committee, who asked me to stand for presidency of the IEA. I expostulated and pointed to many more experienced and competent members of the Association.
Estlin was persistent and his perseverance was supported by phone calls from the IEA Secretary, Professor Michael Garraway. I finally accepted and was elected Chairman at the business meeting in Vancouver, August 1984. The Executive Committee consisted of Roger Detels, Michael Garraway and Arpo Aromaa. In spite of personal differences we were quite compatible and managed to collaborate well.
Professor Michael Garraway was a devoted and experienced secretary (his second term). Roger Detels a conscientious treasurer and Arpo Aromaa was energetically preparing for the coming ISM in Helsinki in 1987. We developed a friendly teasing tone, we all had a great sense of humour, which brightened up long tiresome overseas travel.
During the period there were regional meetings in Jhansi, India 1986 and Ribeiro Preto, Brazil 1985. These meetings had many participants but were not well organized, how much impact they had in improving the understanding of epidemiology in the region is difficult to say. It would have been valuable to have followed them up e.g. by questionnaires.
The meeting in Thailand in 1988 organized, in collaboration with INCLEN I felt was better organized; it turned out to be more fruitful due to the collaboration of energetic members; similar joint meetings with INCLEN would appear promising.
During my time as president I personally very much felt the need for and the importance of regional meetings. From our experiences it appeared, however, that better and more carefully planned meetings were needed to improve the standard of epidemiology.
Collaboration with Eastern Europe was a constant problem. Contact had to be through WHO. This was a delaying factor and we were uncertain whether we got the right people on occasions. This has undoubtedly improved, due to the change of the political situation. This has made direct contact possible.
Collaboration with WHO was of great concern. WHO(Geneva) was never very helpful. The regional director of WHO EURO), J. Asvall was always positive, but the final practical outcome was much less than expected, possibly due to financial constraints and the lack of enthusiasm of WHO (EURO) staff.
All in all the spirit in 1984-1987 for IEA was characterised by expansion; membership grew and new scientific fields were covered.