A renowned neuro-cerebrovascular surgeon from Taiwan has overcome strong opposition from China to be elected the next president of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS).
Tu Yong-kwang (杜永光), a professor in the surgery department at National Taiwan University’s College of Medicine, will lead the federation from 2013 to 2017 after winning a vote on Sept. 16 at the WFNS’ annual congress in Brazil.
Chiu Chung-ching (邱仲慶), president of the Taiwan Neurosurgical Society, said the WFNS is known as the “United Nations of the global neurosurgical community” and plays an important role in exchange of research and clinical expertise among its member organizations.
“Tu is not only the first Taiwanese, but also the first Asian to be elected to the top WFNS leadership post since its creation 56 years ago,” Chiu said.
Until now, the federation had always been led by either Americans or Europeans.
Tu said he hopes to help narrow the gap in medical services among countries around the world and upgrade Taiwan’s international visibility after assuming the post.
“I plan to set up a neurosurgical ‘peace corps’ to allow people in countries with inadequate medical resources to enjoy advanced medical and health care,” Tu said.
He also pledged to promote the use of the Internet and cloud computing technologies to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge in the field and offer easier access for young neurosurgeons to pursue advanced studies.
The 63-year-old pioneer in neuro-cerebrovascular surgery in Taiwan was nominated in September last year for the WFNS presidency election along with a Japanese surgeon.
His nomination immediately drew a backlash from China, which demanded the Taiwan Neurosurgical Society be renamed to include “China” in its title. China also lobbied Latin American and Middle East countries to back the Japanese candidate instead of Tu.
Despite China’s yearlong effort to block his election, Tu managed to beat his Japanese rival by more than 20 votes, Chiu said, because of his recognition around the world for pioneering a number of surgical techniques.
Chiu said Tu won the support of neurosurgical societies in North American, European and most Asian countries. Even two Japanese neuro-cerebrovascular surgical associations voted for Tu, Chiu said.
During the process, many Taiwanese medical practitioners and academics voluntarily lobbied their friends in the global medical community to support Tu’s bid, Chiu said.
Founded in 1955, the WFNS is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has more than 40,000 members, all of whom are members of neurosurgical societies in more than 120 countries worldwide.