Prof Lars French’s Presidency Lookback
Moving the ILDS to new horizons in dermatological policy, education and global health
As Prof Lars French completes his term as the President of the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) ahead of the 25th World Congress of Dermatology, we are honoured to reflect on the remarkable achievements and significant milestones that characterised his four-year tenure.
Prof Lars French's presidency at the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS), alongside our outstanding Board of Directors has been a period of remarkable progress and innovation in dermatological policy, education, and global health. Throughout his presidency, Prof French has demonstrated dynamic leadership, strategic vision, and an unwavering dedication to advancing global dermatological health. Let's take a look back at the significant milestones and achievements that have shaped his presidency.
One of the defining moments of Lars' presidency was his official assumption of the ILDS presidency at the 24th World Congress of Dermatology in June 2019. Taking over from Past President Harvey Lui, Lars received the ILDS/WCD Gavel from WCD2019 President Giovanni Pellancani, symbolising the responsibility and authority entrusted to him to lead the ILDS into the future.
Prof French's leadership was instrumental in developing and implementing the ILDS and International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD) Priorities for 2020-2023 centred around the theme "Global Partnerships for Skin Health." This involved close collaboration with the passionate and talented ILDS Board, Committees, and Secretariat over the past four years, ensuring a focused and strategic approach to address the challenges faced by the dermatology community worldwide.
Under Prof French's guidance, the ILDS has experienced unprecedented growth and fostered crucial partnerships. At the #EADV2019 conference, Lars played a key role in World Skin Health Day promotions and engaged in important discussions alongside International Society of Dermatology President, George Reizner.
He also promoted the Global Psoriasis Atlas (GPA), a collaboration between ILDS, International Psoriasis Council (IPC), and International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA), which was launched later in October 2019. Thanks to the GPA team and collaborating organisations, future funding for the GPA was secured, and a Scientific Advisory Board was established for the project.
Strengthening the ILDS's relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) has been another significant accomplishment of the ILDS under Prof French's leadership. In March 2022, the ILDS secured an additional three years of "official relations" status with the WHO.
Notably, the neglected tropical disease department recognised the importance of skin diseases and embraced the term "skin NTDs." This led to the launch of the Skin NTD Framework in June 2022, providing guidance to countries and partners in addressing skin NTDs and ensuring the holistic management of other skin diseases.
Prof French has been actively involved in advancing World Skin Health Day over the last four years, with the support of the talented World Skin Health Day Working Group and joint project partner, the International Society of Dermatology (ISD), which has reached over 34 million people since 2017. As Chair of the World Skin Health Day Working Group, this included the development of a full rebrand, a new website, and planning the 10th-anniversary celebrations, set to launch at the 25th World Congress of Dermatology in Singapore.
In 2020 and beyond ILDS successfully navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 onwards, the ILDS released regular articles from Member Societies around the world, sharing their experiences in dealing with the pandemic. Guidelines were prepared, and a collaboration with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) led to the launch of the ILDS-AAD COVID-19 Dermatology Registry, spearheaded by Prof Esther Freeman from Harvard University. This demonstrated Prof French's commitment to supporting the dermatology community and ensuring the dissemination of vital information during challenging times.
During the 75th World Health Assembly in May 2022, the World Skin Health Coalition (previously known as the Global Dermatology Coalition) was officially launched. As part of this diverse coalition, the ILDS worked alongside GlobalSkin (formerly International Alliance of Dermatology Patient Organisations) and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the impact of dermatological diseases and increase the healthcare prioritisation of these conditions by the World Health Organization (WHO) and global decision-makers
The primary objective of the coalition is to raise awareness about the significant burdens imposed by dermatological diseases and strive for improved patient outcomes on a global scale. Prof French's involvement in the project, representing ILDS together with ILDS board-member Luca Borradori, ensured that the voices of ILDS Members and dermatology professionals around the world were heard and contributed to the coalition's efforts to effect positive change in addressing dermatological issues worldwide.
Prof French's presidency also saw the successful hosting of the 3rd World Skin Summit in October 2022 in Peru. This event, prepared together with ILDS Board Member Henry Lim, the ILDS Board and the Peruvian Dermatology Society brought together experts and stakeholders to address global dermatological challenges and define strategies for the ILDS to tackle them effectively. The summit also marked the launch of the Global Atopic Dermatitis Atlas (GADA), a significant milestone in addressing data gaps and building upon the success of the Global Psoriasis Atlas (GPA).
Dermatologists and uniquely positioned in global health because skin conditions are often the presenting sign of severe illness such as NTDs and COVID-19, we at the ILDS are a non-governmental organisation that has the privilege of being an official relation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and aim to improve skin health for the world through our active collaboration with the WHO.
Prof Lars French
In April 2023, nine ILDS Board Members and Advisors came together to commemorate World Health Day in a captivating video. With their collective expertise, they highlighted and raised awareness of the vital role that dermatology and skin health play as part of the global health agenda. Watch the video now!
Throughout their terms, Prof French and the outstanding ILDS Board of Directors have represented the ILDS at countless meetings and member society conferences worldwide, tirelessly promoting the work of the ILDS and raising awareness of dermatological issues on the global stage. Notably, Prof French joined IFD Chair, Claire Fuller, IFD Vice-Chair, Esther with other ILDS staff representatives for conversations with key stakeholders at the first-ever WHO Global Meeting on Skin-Related NTDs in Geneva in March 2023, advocating for greater efforts to address the burden, disability, and stigma caused by skin diseases.
In April 2023, Prof French launched the Global Partnerships for Education and Care (GPEC) programme, aiming to improve the standard of dermatological education and care worldwide. By facilitating mutual learning and exchange partnerships between dermatology departments from different resource settings worldwide, GPEC addresses an unmet need identified during the World Skin Summit in Ho Chi Minh City. Learn more about the programme in this video from Prof French.
Prof Lars French's presidency has also seen the modernisation and professionalisation of the ILDS office and staff team in London, with the appointment of a new Executive Director, Arpita Bhose, and Head of Operations, Emma van Rooijen. The team has grown significantly over the last four years, enabling the ILDS to better serve its members and advance its mission.
Additionally, Prof French strengthened the International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD) by recruiting Prof Esther Freeman as the IFD Vice-Chair and External Advisor for the COVID-19 Registry and GLODERM. Prof Valeska Padovese was also welcomed as an expert External Advisor to the IFD Migrant Health Working Group, focusing on Migrant Health, vulnerable populations, and Sexual Health/HIV.
As Prof Lars French concludes his presidency, alongside many of the incredible ILDS Board, including ILDS Secretary-General, Hassan Galadari, ILDS Treasurer, Brigitte Dréno, Past President, Harvey Lui, International Director, Ramesha Bhat, Associate Director, Ncoza Dlova, Asia Pacific Regional Director, Kenji Kabashima, International Director, Margarita Larralde, Latin America inc. Caribbean Regional Director, Omar Lupi, WCD2019 President, Giovanni Pellacani and Regional Director, Daniel Siegel, the ILDS stands at the forefront of global dermatological policy, education, and health. Their tireless efforts, visionary leadership and unwavering commitment have propelled the ILDS to new horizons, leaving a lasting impact on the field of dermatology and paving the way for a better future for people around the world.
We thank each and every one of the ILDS Board of Directors for their commitment and service to the ILDS during the past four years and for making such a huge and invaluable contribution towards the ILDS’ vision “Skin Health for the World”.
I am immensely grateful to the ILDS Board, staff, partners, supporters, and our unique and growing global community of members, for an unforgettable journey of collaboration and progress over the last four years. Your unwavering support has made my term as President truly remarkable. It has been an incredible journey, thank you. Here's to a bright future for global dermatology and Skin Health for the World!”
Prof Lars French