President Bob Baigrie Welcome to the Congress 2012

Dear SASES Delegate

As always, it is a real pleasure to welcome you to the SAGES/SASES meeting. But it gives us particular pleasure this year to contribute to the successful celebration of our sister society's 50th anniversary meeting. This is a fine achievement for generations of SAGES office bearers and members, and we are grateful to them all. However, all of them would willingly acknowledge our huge debt to SAGES founder, Professor Solly Marks for his energy and vision back in 1962. In that year he raised enough support from his colleagues to establish a society that would meet independently of the Medical Association's annual conference, and one can only imagine the dyspeptic disapproval of some of his senior colleagues!  In those days, clinical focus was presumably on peptic ulceration as well as pancreatic and gastro-duodenal physiology (Solly was a leading international expert on gastric acid output). And then there was the small matter of establishing a pioneering endoscopy service. It's a great story.

Since then SAGES influence has ranged well beyond gastroenterology, and the society has made an inestimable contribution to the practice of both medicine and surgery in this country and abroad. SASES congratulates you most sincerely and I hope our biennial meeting remains a highlight on the increasingly crowded congress calendar for many years to come.

SASES too has a fine history. We are younger for sure, being born at the dawn of laparoscopic surgery and I would recommend to you Andre Potgieter's fine account of our history on our revamped website - It is only ten months since our last meeting at Champagne Sports Resort and I am very grateful to Masee Naidoo and Dick Brombacher who are your LOC representatives for this meeting. They have worked extremely hard and willingly to produce this excellent programme. We are also very excited to welcome our first SASES visitor from the Indian sub-continent, Professor Pradeep Chowbey, whose influence and experience is quite unique.

The new compliance constraints placed on pharma and manufacturers, are both destructive and regrettable - a huge over-reaction to the inevitable few who previously abused the old standards of conduct. These strictures are a real threat to the future of congresses both here and abroad. For example, we are yet find a means to raise money from the trade to sponsor needy delegates and trainees, while sponsorship of long-standing worthy traditions like the annual awards dinner, are absurdly regarded as a perverse incentive. Despite these difficulties, you have made it to the meeting, and I, and your EXCO, hope it proves an enjoyable and worthwhile congress for you. It is an election year and we will welcome in our new EXCO this weekend.

With my best wishes