- For doctors, the ability to move between countries is one of the attractions of a career in medicine. Patients too are now becoming more mobile. Intercontinental air travel means that obstetricians may see women who have had their early antenatal care thousands of miles away. Humanitarian crises, particularly in Africa, are bringing asylum-seekers to Europe and presenting the medical services with new challenges. Within Europe, economic migration from East to West has increased markedly in recent years and clinicians face increasing problems in communicating with patients.
- The 4th and 5th Millennium Development Goals (MDG), proclaimed in 2000 by the United Nations, aim at reducing child mortality by two thirds and eliminating two thirds of maternal mortality by the target date of 2015. At a global conference, “Women deliver”, held from 18th to 20th October 2007 in London, however, health politicians, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and professional bodies had to confess that these goals are still far away from being reality.
- Europe's boundaries are hard to define. Greenland, to the west, has left the European Union but is still part of the kingdom of Denmark. On the southern Mediterranean coast, African and European cultures mingle. Eastwards, Turkey is working towards membership of the European Union. To the north-east, Russia has been a European power since the time of Peter the Great and today the World Health Organisation's Europe office is responsible for all the former Soviet republics up to the Chinese border.
- September is always busy with conferences—too busy, perhaps. This month an international infertility meeting in Barcelona overlaps with the World Congress on IVF in Montreal, and the Asian and Oceanic Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Tokyo is followed immediately by the German Congress of Endometriosis in Berlin. Next month the World Congress on Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Florence will overlap with the Congress of the European Society of Gynecology in Paris. Choice is enjoyable but environmentalists may worry about our specialty's carbon footprint.
- We are looking forward to the British International Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in July in London—not in the city centre but in Docklands, a historic area that has recently been transformed. When London's Royal Victoria Dock opened in 1855 it was at the forefront of technology, designed specifically for steamships, and by 1921 the “Royal” docks were the largest in the world. Today they form a backdrop to the City Airport and ExCeL, London's largest conference and exhibition centre, which will host the Congress and later be one of the venues for the 2012 Olympics.
- International Women's Day (IWD) is being celebrated on March 8th this year, as indeed it is every year. We suspect that this annual event has escaped the notice of many obstetricians and gynaecologists, though those using the Internet on that date may wonder why Google has changed its logo to include the female symbol. IWD was first observed in 1909 in the United States as part of a campaign by the Socialist Party of America against poor working conditions for women. The day was adopted by socialists across the world, notably by Soviet Russia, and it remains an official holiday in many countries of the former USSR.
- At the start of a new year it is hard to resist the temptation to look backward and forward, like the Italian deity Janus who gave his name to January. In 2007 this Journal will be 36 years old. It was conceived by the Societies of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Netherlands and Northern Belgium and its first editorial in 1971 invited contributions from further field. This month we have papers from a dozen countries, half of them outside Europe, and our founders – some of whom are still active in research – must be delighted with this success.