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ICUDDR First Virtual Conference: Educating and Promoting Addiction Science in a Virtual World

By Cary Hopkins Eyles, MA, CAP

July 2020

It is a different world and all have had to adapt. The plan was to be in Thailand July 13-15th for an ICUDDR conference hosted by Dr. Prapapun Chucharoen (with Mahidol University) and the Asia-Pacific Regional Collaboration Center of ICUDDR. But alas, it was not meant to be. And so, we embarked upon our first virtual conference. ICUDDR is certainly no stranger to online trainings or meetings. But this was different. We endeavored to have multiple sessions, with break out discussions, panels in different time zones, fully Spanish speaking panels, and simultaneous translation. And the short story is we did all that. Of course, the longer story is messier and more arduous than that, but it was a success due to team work, supportive partners, and passion.

As we adjusted to the realities of doing a virtual conference, we reached out to professionals who provided us recorded poster sessions from around the globe; these excellent, brief presentations were available during the conference and can still be viewed, and commented on, at the ICUDDR 2020 Conference YouTube page.

We are pleased to report we had 273 unique participants – many of whom attended more than one session – who represented 46 countries! Fifteen people took advantage of the excellent translation services available. We had 7 panels including 2 representing our Asian-Pacific region, 1 from the African region, 2 representing the Latin American region – with our partners from OAS/CICAD – and others with presenters from Europe and North America. These are also available on the ICUDDR 2020 Conference YouTube page.

While the success of a conference can be measured many ways, it is critical to us at ICUDDR that the discussions that started during the event be brought into our work, out in the world. We are pleased to say we have two projects that were borne of the conference break out sessions so we can continue to work with many of you on the important issues of prevention, treatment, drug demand reduction, and our clients during COVID-19. Stay safe, friends.