Dispatch from South Africa: COMOC 2016

Cape Town.jpgI recently returned from the 13th meeting of the Combined Orthopaedic Associations, affectionately known as COMOC 2016. This meeting is unique in that it brings together seven different national orthopaedic organizations from six countries (America, Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa).

The concept for this combined meeting originated with R.I. Harris, a Canadian orthopaedic surgeon who had been the president of both the Canadian Orthopaedic Association and the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA). Dr. Harris felt that improved communication between American, British, and Canadian orthopaedic surgeons would be of benefit to all. He was also responsible for the institution of the American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellowship.

The first combined meeting involved only US, Canadian, and British orthopaedic surgeons. At that time travel would have been by ship or train. The original idea was to hold this meeting every six years and to move the venue from country to country on a predetermined schedule. This year, COMOC was held in Cape Town, South Africa, and in six years the US will be the host country.

The structure of the meeting is unique in that countries are given a forum to present orthopaedic issues most relevant to their national organizations. On Monday, April 11, both the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the AOA presented plenary sessions. On Tuesday Australia took its turn in the morning, and New Zealand presented in the afternoon. Wednesday saw a presentation from the United Kingdom, with Canada taking the podium on Thursday. The plenaries wrapped up on Friday with the host South African Orthopaedic Association.

This meeting is an enduring link with the past and the future, continuing the orthopaedic tradition of fellowship and friendship that is the hallmark of our specialty. The Cape Town meeting was exceptional in venue, content, and organization.  The Local Organizing Committee and Programme Committee are to be congratulated for an exceptional job in developing a program that maintained significant audience interest despite the competing attractions of Cape Town and the South African countryside.

When COMOC comes to America in 2022, I hope North American orthopaedists—especially younger ones—will take the once-in-a-career opportunity to meet and talk with musculoskeletal colleagues from all over the world.

James P. Waddell, MD, FRCSC

JBJS Deputy Editor

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