APP postponed, online event planned


APP2019.
A plenary session at APP2019.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pharmacy Guild’s flagship conference, scheduled for next week, has now been postponed

The Guild made the announcement in a statement on Friday, 13 March.

The 2020 event had been scheduled to commence on Wednesday 18 March on the Gold Coast.

APP Chairman Kos Sclavos AM said the decision, which he described as “difficult,” was made based on several health and safety concerns.

With more than 6000 people having been expected to attend APP, the Guild said its number one priority is the health and safety of the community pharmacy workforce, given they continue to be on the front line of the Nation’s response to the novel coronavirus.

“The ongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in global company travel restriction policies which are impacting upon speakers and the trade exhibition. In addition, the recently announced cases of Coronavirus on the Gold Coast, and the need to preserve the health and wellbeing of our frontline pharmacy workforce has resulted in the postponement of APP2020,” Mr Sclavos said.

“The APP organising committee, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Gold Coast Convention Centre have relied on expert health advice and information from State and Commonwealth Health Departments and public health warnings.

“As recently as yesterday, the Committee received briefings from both the State and Commonwealth Governments and are acting in accordance with their general advice.

“APP has a large footprint, not only within the community pharmacy sector, but throughout the entire Gold Coast community. The health and safety of delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, conference centre staff, suppliers and the general public is of the utmost importance for us.

“We understand the impact this decision will have on the community pharmacy sector and the local Gold Coast economy. After hosting the event for the last 30 years, it saddens us deeply to take this action.

“The encouragement and dedication of our sponsors and exhibitors has delivered a proud history of APP and we thank all our supporters for their vision, commitment and dedication to the community pharmacy sector,” Mr Sclavos said.

He advised that a reduced program, called APP Online, is currently being developed for registered delegates to view streamed content and recorded sessions, online.

“While we work to confirm new dates for APP, ‘APP Online’ will offer as many of the APP face-to-face sessions, in a digital format, as possible.

“This means that delegates will still be able to hear the latest industry, business and clinical updates and record the CPD credits that they would have gained at APP.

“I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused to delegates, speakers sponsors, conference staff and exhibitors and welcome everyone to participate in ‘APP Online’,” Mr Sclavos said.

A full program for ‘APP Online’ will be made available soon via www.appconference.com.

The Guild also advised that given the significant costs incurred in preparing the event and the costs incurred by delegates, sponsors and exhibitors a partial rebate will be put in place and communicated to delegates, sponsors and exhibitors as soon as possible.

It said that while no obligation exists, the partial rebates are a “clear sign of good faith” by the Guild in Queensland and the APP Committee.

The statement said the Guild values its relationships and ongoing support before financial considerations, and noted that given that COVID-19 is a communicable disease, no insurance claim is possible for the event.

Following public health notices and Governmental advice, conferences scheduled for later in the year are being actively reviewed, it said.

“Once again, we thank all our supporters and apologise for the inconvenience.”

APP joins a number of events in Australia and around the world which have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week Sigma Healthcare announced that it would postpone its Amcal and Guardian Retail Conference, which is normally held on the Gold Coast in the days leading up to APP.

Internationally, the American College of Healthcare Executives has cancelled its upcoming Chicago Congress on Healthcare Leadership, while Pharmachina 2020 in Shanghai, Phar-East in Singapore, and the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco have also been cancelled. Other events, such as the World Patient Safety Science and Technology Summit in Los Angeles and WIRED Health in London have been postponed.

Bloomberg reported that the Council on Foreign Relations cancelled its New York meeting about “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” due to concerns about the virus itself.

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