Hermann Brugger, MD

President, International Society for Mountain Medicine
Head, Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine
Associate Professor, Innsbruck Medical University

This congress was born under special circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to postpone the event from 2020 to 2021. Even for 2021, the pandemic remains unclear and the congress is fraught with uncertainty, especially about travel restrictions and public health measures to prevent virus transmission. After a series of lockdowns, we are forced to offer you a virtual congress which means that attendants will be given the possibility to attend the congress online. The duration of the congress and consequently its content has been reduced but we tried to stay true to our intial principle to present the most important findings in mountain medicine of the last five years.

Following the tradition of the last 27 years of ISMM, the XIII World Congress will give us an update on high altitude medicine and emergency medicine in both mountainous and remote areas. Since the beginning, ISMM has striven to rise to new medical challenges, ensuring that the objectives of each congress continue to progress the community, delivering the latest, medical information available from world-class international speakers. The event in 2021 will no doubt exceed expectations again, offering open discussion on research developments specific to aspects of high altitude and emergency medicine, including a comprehensive overview of hot-topics of interest in both fields of expertise. At our last event in Kathmandu, Nepal (2018), keynote speakers already addressed the imminent danger of global warming and the potential effects on human health and safety. In particular, the increase in major disasters due to climate change in the Himalayas was highlighted. In Interlaken, we also aim to emphasise specific health problems and dangerous rescue scenarios that become synonymous with the growing threat of global warming. Topics of particular interest being those issues that may affect disaster preparedness and emergency medicine worldwide in future.

It is the second time that the ISMM congress takes place in Switzerland. In August 1997, ISMM established minimal requirements for a formal International Diploma course in Mountain Medicine (DiMM), together with UIAA MEDCOM and the International Commission of Mountain Emergency Medicine ICAR MEDCOM in Interlaken. In 2021, the congress will be again organised in Interlaken, by an active group around the future ISSM president Monika Brodmann and the Swiss Society of Mountain Medicine.

From the experience of the last years, we will offer a dedicated mountain emergency medicine component in collaboration with the International Commission of Mountain Emergency Medicine ICAR MEDCOM and the Wilderness Medical Society WMS. This will also include virtual workshops related to clinical education. The program will cover many aspects of mountain medicine, from the latest science to practical application.

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