Revisiting the Colombo Declaration

The Colombo Declaration in support of the Stop Bombing Hospitals campaign


The issue of attacks on medical facilities in conflict zones was brought to the fore by several presentations during the DevelopingEM 2016 Sri Lanka conference.

The moving presentation by Kass Thomas describes the 2015 attack on the MSF run Kunduz Trauma Centre in Afghanistan. It contains distressing content and graphic images and it stirred emotions in everyone present at the conference.

In response to these presentations a petition of conference faculty and delegates recorded unanimous condemnation of past and ongoing attacks on health care facilities.

At the suggestion of our friends and colleagues within the Sri Lankan Society of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine (SSCCEM) an attempt to crystallise the feelings of the faculty and delegates into a formal declaration was undertaken.

The resultant Colombo Declaration was presented formally during the plenary session of the SLEMCON 2017 conference.


Final Logo-03The Colombo Declaration

Attacks on health care facilities in conflict zones have, unfortunately, been documented in many wars throughout history. In the aftermath of World War II, in an attempt to limit the suffering caused by armed conflict, the international community drafted and ratified the 1949 Geneva Conventions, establishing rules to protect people who were not participating in the hostilities – civilians, medical personnel, injured soldiers etc. Violations of these rules of war, such as bombing a hospital, constituted a war crime punishable under International Humanitarian Law.

Despite the global acceptance of the Geneva Conventions, recent years have seen an escalation of the pattern, frequency and nature of attacks on hospitals in conflict . Recently termed the “weaponisation” of health care, these hospital attacks have become part of a multi-dimensional war strategy, which uses large scale violence to deprive people of access to health care. While Syria and Yemen have recently suffered the largest volume of attacks on health care facilities, a recent report documented attacks in 23 countries in 2016 alone.

The majority often using highly advanced precision aerial bombardment. These attacks are not simply collateral damage.

Under mounting pressure from all major international health related organisations, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2286 in May 2016 condemning attacks on health care and demanding that all warring parties fully comply with the Geneva Conventions. Unfortunately, the resolution has not been implemented or enforced, attacks continue with impunity.

At the 2016 DevelopingEM conference in Sri Lanka an eye witness description of the bombing of the Medecins Sans Frontieres run Kunduz Trauma Centre in Northern Afghanistan was emotional provided by Dr Kathleen Thomas. Forty two staff and patients were killed in the US attack and the Trauma Centre was utterly destroyed. Other presenters and conference delegates later described similar attacks on health facilities in other conflict settings that they too had witnessed.

As a group, evidenced by a signed petition, the faculty and delegates (approximately 300 clinicians) of the conference agreed to cement the overwhelming abhorrence at the ongoing situation globally in the Colombo Declaration.

The Sri Lankan Society of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine (SSCCEM) and DevelopingEM in behalf of the faculty and delegates of the 2016 Conference present the Declaration as follows.

We, the directors and organizing committee of DevelopingEM and the SSCCEM, are concerned about the serious worldwide attacks on healthcare facilities, personnel and their patients. We have assembled at the 2017 Sri Lankan Emergency Medicine Conference (SLEMCON), to consider enhanced action to tackle this problem in a spirit of trust and cooperation. We:

  1. Condemn the attacks on health care facilities, health care workers and vehicles in conflict zones.
  2. Reaffirm our belief that all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, political affiliation, or religious beliefs should have the right to access health care, and all medical professionals should be able to deliver this care in facilities without threat of
  3. Call upon the UN Security Council to take immediate action to fully implement and enforce Resolution 2286
  4. Call upon all Member States to uphold and comply with the Geneva Conventions; to commit to making attacks against healthcare in conflict zones an absolute redline; to support the enforcement of UNSC Resolution 2286; and to call for an immediate cessation to any further attacks on health care facilities
  5. Call upon national medical societies, specialist colleges and clinicians to individually and collectively condemn attacks on healthcare facilities in conflict zones, and to promote respect and awareness of the Geneva Conventions and enforcement of UNSC Resolution 2286.

These are serious promises which will be difficult to achieve, but we are resolved that such commitments will be met by practical action and the resources needed to ensure real and measurable results;

Together we can raise the profile of this issue and advocate for the correct and proper enforcement of the Geneva Conventions and UNSC Resolution 2286.


Since the formal declaration DevelopingEM has used social media and other platforms to spread the word about the Colombo Declaration to clinicians around the globe.

Kass Thomas followed up her presentation in Sri Lanka with an article describing the Kunduz attack and outlining her thoughts on the way forward.

As individuals, we have begun approaching local health districts, academic colleges and professional organisations.

As a result of these approaches the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia (CENA) and the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) have all formally come out in support of the Colombo Declaration.

We have also begun the process of appealing to our political representatives.

Unfortunately as time passes the problem of the weaponisation of healthcare has not halted with ongoing attacks on facilities around the globe and a total disregard for the Geneva conventions and the UN security council resolution on bombing medical facilities. In 2017, 701 facilities were attacked in 23 countries, more than ever before, according to the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Report.

As such we feel there is very much still work to do and as we progress we plan as an organisation to:

  • Vastly increase global medical community support for this declaration by gaining signatory support from as many clinicians and professional organisations as possible.
  • Report on Dr Thomas’ website whenever we become aware of a new hospital attack so that these atrocities do not go unnoticed.
  • Seek media interest in reporting the declaration and the concern across the medical community for our colleagues under attack.
  • Utilise this media interest to have a voice with individuals and organisations of potential influence on this complex issue.


This issue is a daunting one to confront but there are things that you can do to help raise awareness and contribute to the groundswell of medical opposition to this tool of modern warfare.

As individuals you can

  • Update your understanding of the issue by checking out Safeguarding Health, the Report on Attacks on Healthcare facilities in 2017, and the Stop Bombing Hospitals website
  • Visit the Stop Bombing Hospitals booth at #DevEM2018 to find out more
  • Sign the Colombo Declaration here
  • Become a local champion and encourage your colleagues and local representative organisations, wherever you hail from, to sign the online declaration. Every signature counts.
  • Spread the word about news of ongoing attacks and also strategies to address the issue such as the Declaration, through your own social media platforms
  • Write to your Member of Parliament or other political representatives in your country about this issue and feel free to forward the Declaration.

At DevelopingEM 2018 Fiji we will be restating the Declaration and there will be an information desk where you can learn more about how to contribute.

As delegates of DevelopingEM you are part of our organisation and we invite you to be part of this movement.

We thank you for your support and look forward to working with you to progress this Declaration.


Radiology Track scheduled for Day One at #DevEM2018

As well as Co-Directing #DevEM2018 Sanj Fernando also leads an experienced group of emergency physicians in presenting an afternoon Radiology Session at this years’ conference.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 1.30.31 pm

This focussed review of XRays and CT scans will review radiology findings that clinically matter.

Get a jump on life saving interventions based on radiology even before the radiologist gets involved.


Get prepped for your trip to FIJI for #DevEM2018

1. Conference location

DevelopingEM will be hosting the 2018 conference at the beautiful InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa

Nestled amongst 35 acres of tropical gardens, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa is located on the beautiful and picturesque Natadola Bay on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.

This five-star resort boasts 266 rooms, world-class dining, a luxury spa, three swimming pools, an 18-hole championship golf course and a kid’s club as well as authentic Fijian hospitality. This is one of the most magnificent luxury retreats in Fiji.

Resort details

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa

Maro Road, Natadola Bay, Sanasana

Viti Levu, Fiji Islands

Website: InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa

Telephone: +679 673 3300

Fax: +679 673 3349



Accommodation is available at the conference venue. DevelopingEM has negotiated a special rate for all conference delegates. For all details regarding rates, rooms and inclusions please visit the website.


2. Customs and immigration

Passport and Visa

Everyone needs a valid passport to enter Fiji. You will also need to have an onward ticket and a passport valid for at least six months longer than your intended stay. A free tourist visa for four months is granted on arrival to citizens of more than 100 countries. Please review the list of visa exempt countries. If you are not from a visa exempt country, please apply for a visa through the Fijian Department of Immigration.

Customs and immigration

Fiji has very strict regulations concerning the import of goods into the country. Please refer to the Fiji Revenue and Customs website for more information about what you can and cannot bring into Fiji.


The following items must be declared.

 Food of any kind.

 Plants or parts of plants – live or dead, including seeds, bulbs, nuts and wooden articles.

 Earth, rock, soil or mineral samples.

 Animals or parts of animals – live or dead including coral, shells and goods made from

protected wildlife.

 Equipment used with horses or other animals.

 Biological specimens or tissues – human or animal.


3. Money

The InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa is a cashless resort. A credit card pre-authorisation is required for all guests staying at the resort and a tab can be set up for those who are not staying at the Resort.

The Resort accepts all major credit cards. Visa, Diners Club, China Union Pay, Amex and MasterCard are widely used. Please note effective 1 April 2016 a service fee of 3.5% will apply to all credit card and foreign debit card payments.

Guests are welcome to change their preferred method of payment upon checkout to cash or local access card to avoid the service fee surcharge.


VAT (Value Added Tax) of 9% applies to many goods and services in Fiji. All hotels and resorts also charge a Service Turnover Tax of 6% and an Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy of 10%.


The currency in Fiji (currency code $FJD), is the Fijian dollar. Bill denominations are $100, $50, $20, $10, $5. Coins are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2.

Important: Tell your bank about your travel plans two weeks before you leave. Card activity in a

foreign country could be mistaken for fraud and you could find your account frozen.

Money exchange

Exchange booths can be found at the airport and in tourist areas. You will get a better rate if you wait until you’re in Fiji to change your dollars, although exchange rates will likely be higher at the airport and in hotels than in banks or booths in town.

Automatic Teller Machines

ATMs are common in major urban areas and most accept the main international debit cards including Cirrus and Maestro. There are ATMs in the airport arrival hall and one on-site at the resort.

Tip: Westpac and ANZ have ATMs throughout Fiji. Australian Westpac customers pay no ATM withdrawal fee at Westpac Pacific ATMs, just a conversion fee.


4. Airport and transfers

Centrally situated in the South Pacific, Fiji is one of the main airline hubs of the Pacific region. Fiji is serviced by most major carriers in the Pacific region including its national carrier Fiji Airways; Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Korean Airlines, Qantas, Pacific Blue, Air Niugini and AirCalin.

The Nadi International Airport is approximately 55 km from the resort and a transfer usually takes 45-60 minutes to travel (by car).


DevelopingEM recommends you arrange a shared or private transfer to travel from the airport to the resort through Uniquely Fiji Hotel Transfers; a Fijian owned transfer and touring business.

DevelopingEM has negotiated special rates for conference delegates to travel to and from the airport to the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.

1. Shared Transfer (one way)

    $45 ($FJD) per adult

    $20 ($FJD) per child (10 to 15 years)

    Children below 10 years are FOC

2. Private Standard Car Transfers (one way)

    $90 ($FJD): 1-3 travellers

    $160 ($FJD): 4-9 traveller’s

    $240 ($FJD): 10-15 traveller’s

3. Private VIP Sedan Transfers (one way)

    $200 ($FJD): 1-4 travellers (includes bottled water and refresher towels)


 Prices are quoted in Fijian Dollars ($FJD) and are for one way only.

 Baby car seats are at an additional $10 Fijian dollars per seat per trip.

 The above prices are inclusive of a meet and greet.

 Payment can be made in cash in AUD, NZD, USD or by credit card which will incur an

    additional 4% surcharge fee.

To book

To secure your transfers, please use the following booking links:

One-way transfers

Return transfers

For any other transfers pre or post conference, please contact Uniquely Fiji Hotel Transfers and

Tours – Ms Zahira Bano by telephone +(679) 8368222 or by email and mention that you are attending the DevelopingEM conference to secure the best rate.


A taxi fare is approximately $90.00 ($FJD) from the airport to the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.


5. Weather

During the month of December, visitors to Natadola should expect an average maximum

temperature around 31°C (87°F) and overnight temperature of 22°C (72°F). You should also plan to bring a raincoat, as rain is likely.

The water temperature will be around 27.0°C (80.6°F) so pack your swimsuit, as this is a great month to swim!


6. Accommodation

Whether you are staying at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa or elsewhere, here are some top tips about your stay.

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa: check in and check out times

The Resort has a standard check in time of 2:00 pm and a standard check out time of 11:00 am.

Earlier check in times and late check out times are available upon request, subject to availability.


Tap water in Natadola is safe to drink however; we recommend you drink bottled water when possible.

If staying at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa you will be provided with two complimentary bottles of Fiji Water daily in your room and bottled water will be provided at the conference.


Electricity is 220-240 volts, 50Hz and a three pin flat plug is standard (similar to Australia and NZ).

You will need a voltage convertor if the application is 110 volts.


Tipping is not encouraged anywhere in Fiji. Tip with a smile and ‘vinaka’, which is Fijian for ‘thankyou’.

Should you wish to render a gratuity to staff at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa please charge this to your account. It will be evenly distributed amongst all resort service staff on a quarterly basis.


7. Registration process

The registration desk will be located on the ground floor of the main building, outside the Conference Centre at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa. All delegates must visit the registration desk to collect their Conference materials and name badge before gaining access to the Conference. The Conference will begin promptly at 8:00 am Monday, 3 December. All delegates are requested to be seated in the Main Ballroom by 7:50 am.

We encourage you to register as early as possible to allow for easy access to the opening of the Conference.

Registration desk opening times are:

Saturday, 1 December: 7:30 – 9:00 am

Sunday, 2 December: 7:30 – 9:00 am & 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Monday, 3 December: 7:00 – 9:00 am

Tuesday, 4 December: 7:00 – 9:00 am

Wednesday, 5 December: 7:00 – 9:00 am

Thursday, 6 December: 7:00 – 9:00 am

If on arrival at the Conference you have not paid for your registration, you will be asked to do so by credit card. All outstanding accounts must be settled upon registering for the Conference and credit card is preferred. If you plan to pay in cash, please have the correct amount available as change will not be limited. Please arrive early to avoid delays.


8. Dietary requirements

If you have not already done so, please advise us of any specific requests (including vegetarian requirements). All attempts have been made to meet these requirements.


9. Conference program

The Organising Committee for DevelopingEM is very pleased to announce the detailed Conference Program is available online: DevelopingEM program. You will receive a printed program with your registration pack and name tag at the conference.

The Conference program commences on Sunday, 2 December 2018 at 6:00 pm with the official Welcome Reception. Please make your way to the Kama Beachfront at this time.


10. Workshops

Workshops are part of the Conference program and involve a separate registration and fee.

Prior to arriving at the Conference, please take note of your selected workshops. Unfortunately, places are strictly limited and you can only attend workshops for which you are registered.

Workshops include:

December 1 – 2, 2018 Ultrasound Workshop

December 2, 2018 EMS Medical Direction Workshop

December 5, 2018 Pacific Regional Emergency Medicine Development Forum

December 6, 2018 Emergency Nursing Workshop


11. Social events

Welcome Reception – Sunday 2 December 2018 (6:00-8:00 pm)

Kick off the conference in style over canapés and drinks on the Kama Beachfront at the Intercontinental Hotel. Reconnect with old friends and meet colleagues from all over the world!

Dress code – neat casual.

Gala Dinner – Wednesday, 5 December 2018 (7:00-10:00 pm)

Soak up the romance of the Pacific at the DevelopingEM Gala Dinner. Located right on the beach,this event will be one of the highlights of the conference and a place where new friendships, concepts and initiatives are born.

Full registration ensures your attendance at this event; day only delegates and partners/children are also welcome at an additional cost. Dress code – semi formal.


12. Communication

Complimentary Wi-Fi

There will be complimentary Wi-Fi provided to all conference delegates during the conference and

in guest rooms. Specific details will be provided on check in to the resort or at the commencement of the Conference.

Communication at the Conference

At DevelopingEM we will be using WhatsApp – a web-based social media platform both in and out of the conference. This App enables you to communicate to the conference group via text message.

You can download the application free through iTunes or Google Play store.

Instructions on joining the group: DevEM 2018

1. Connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or mobile data

2. On your mobile device, tablet or computer, complete one of the following:

a) Click on the following link:

b) Scan the QR Code via one of the following methods;


    Android users can scan the code using a third-party QR code reader.

    iPhone recipients can scan the code using their phones’ cameras.

Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, WhatsApp will confirm whether you would like to join the group. If you select yes, a similar screen to the following screen whatsapp 2

will pop up to indicate you have joined the DEM2018 group.


13. Photography and filming

Delegates are advised that segments of the Conference may be recorded by still photography, video and/or audio (referred to as ‘the recordings’ in this document) for educational/promotional/media purposes including social media.

If you do not consent to recordings, please:

Advise us via email at prior to the event and provide us with a recent photograph so that you can be identified.

Advise the operator at the Conference and move out of the camera range.

You can withdraw your consent to DevelopingEM’s use of the recordings at any time by notifying us in writing.

DevelopingEM will take all reasonable measures to remove the recordings from publication upon such a request.


14. Certificates of attendance

All Conference delegates will be required to complete a feedback form which will be issued electronically (via direct email) following the conclusion of the Conference. Once you have submitted your feedback form, you will automatically receive your certificate of attendance.

The team from NAEMSP returns with another EMS Medical Direction workshop


This workshop has seen some fascinating discussions between EMS clinicians and providers from around the globe over the last few years.

An analysis of different systems and their governance structures has been an illuminating process.

This interactive course focuses on EMS in the real world and serves to enhance physicians’ expertise in EMS issues.

Participants will receive a foundation upon which to function effectively as an EMS medical director, receive specific management tools that may be of use in their local EMS system, initiate dialogue with other EMS physicians to allow future networking, and develop an understanding of how EMS functions within the broader emergency care system.

There are still places in this workshop so register NOW before its booked out.

Global and Regional EM Tracks- the Core of #DevEM2018

Hearing the experiences of colleagues from around the globe has been one of the key features of DevelopingEM since our first conference in Sydney in 2012.

Over the years we have had incredible presentations on wide ranging topics including

  • Lead Poisoning in Nigeria
  • The health effects of the US Embargo of Cuba
  • The work of Cuban Health Brigades around the globe
  • The effects of climate change on human health
  • MSF experiences around the globe
  • The effects of conflict and war on the provision of medical care

as well as presentations on the progression of EM from the four corners of the globe.

Experiences from the following countries have been part of our Global Sessions over previous conferences

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Fiji
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Laos
  • Mexico
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sri Lanka
  • St Lucia

You can seen many of these previous presentations here on our website.

This year sees another fantastic series of Global EM tracks.

Dr Shivani Shailin, a Fijian emergency clinician, leads the EM in Fiji track and has organised a fascinating Fijian session with discussions ranging from EMS development, to disaster response, to emergency nursing development and EM education.

Shivani (with Georgina Phillips and Anne Creaton) recently received the ACEM Mika Ah Kuoi award for excellence on completion of the Masters of Emergency Medicine Fiji and we are very grateful for her efforts in putting together an amazing track.

Natalie Thurtle returns to lead and coordinate not only a Regional EM track, where we will hear the experiences of colleagues from around the diverse and wonderful Pacific, but also a second session- Global EM: Innovation in Emergency Medicine. This fascinating session will examine the lessons learnt from the application of emergency systems globally, often in the most challenging of environments.

Nat has been an integral part of the DevelopingEM team since our first conference in 2012 and we will be eternally grateful for her involvement and friendship.

These sessions are amongst our most popular for a reason- they’re awesome!!

Join us in Fiji and get involved in the discussion.

A fantastic Paediatric Track for #DevEM2018 Fiji

Our good friend April Kam from Canada brings together an amazing group of experts for a top-notch Paediatric track.

April returns for her third DevelopingEM and she has organised a group of old and new faces.

Mary Langcake, Tanya Solano, Donovan Dwyer, and Suzanne Beno return to the team having helped DevelopingEM hugely in the past and we are so grateful for their ongoing support.

Tania Principi and Ben Shepherd join us from the first time. Tania is one of April’s colleagues from Toronto and Ben is a local from our own base hospital in Wollongong- yes it’s a real place.

Together this team cover the entire range of Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Critical Care- its going to be an awesome way to kick off the conference.

Get a taste of what’s in store by checking April’s last program from DEM Sri Lanka in 2016.

Peter Cameron and Gerard O’Reilly return with an awesome Trauma track

Peter and Gerard have joined our Medical Organising Committee and return with an amazing Trauma track for #DevEM2018 Fiji.

They and a multinational group of presenters are covering topics that span the breadth of trauma management.

Get a taste of how good this session is going to be- check the trauma track from last years’ conference in Sri Lanka.

Peter and Gerard have been unbelievably generous with their precious time and we remain so grateful for their advice as we continue to attempt to take DevelopingEM to the next level.

Join the next level with us in Fiji.

Register Now!!