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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.101 n.3 Cape Town Mar. 2011




'Off-key' note speakers



To the Editor: Isn't it disconcerting what some international keynote speakers demand in terms of remuneration, first-class travel and luxury accommodation, whether visiting rich or developing countries? I have just discovered why this may be not just deserved but necessary, as it results in local organisers anxiously awaiting the arrival of keynote speakers at the airport.

I am apparently an 'off-key' note speaker. As a paediatric radiologist working with TB, I was recently invited to talk to paediatricians at an international paediatric congress in South Africa. Excited by the prospect of bringing clinical colleagues up to date on advancements in paediatric radiology and the progress in computer-aided diagnosis of TB in children, I prepared two presentations that I hoped would be informative and entertaining, and deliver a powerful message to a clinical audience. I gave up the long weekend, booked my own flights, thoughtfully opted out of the hotel booking in favour of a friend's couch, and got myself to the congress facility by train and foot.

If I had charged a fortune, someone from the organising committee would surely have bothered to inform me that my session had been changed to the morning, and I would not have been an embarrassing 'no-show'.

So, ironically, the lesson is to talk only to your own specialty, charge a fortune, cost a fortune, accept any and all offers of travel and accommodation, and make the organisers fret about your arrival. If I'd done all that, I might have been considered 'keynote' and not have to resort to ranting here 'off-key'.


Savvas Andronikou

Department of Radiology
University of the Witwatersrand

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