The creation of "Mediterranean Forum of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine" (MFPRM) 
and its role to the development of Rehabilitation to the Mediterranean Countries.

Nicolas Christodoulou, MD, PhD,
April 2007. 

Since twenty or more years ago, when Mediterranean colleagues met in international congresses or other meetings, a great enthusiasm and a friendly approach were the prominent feelings between us. We were always thinking that we must do something in the Mediterranean Basin for our speciality, something to unite us as a family, a tool to help each other, a weapon to strengthen and maintain our relationships.

But who was going to take the most difficult decision to do the first Historical Step? ?he decision was taken in Israel! Pr. HAIM RING proposed to the Israeli Association of PRM (since 1994) to organise the first Mediterranean Congress in Herzliya of Israel, under his presidency. His suggestion was approved and our ship started its journey. Leon Heller, Jean-Jacques Vatine and Morris Azaria helped him mainly on that effort.

The First Mediterranean Congress of PRM took place in May 1996 in Israel. The map of the Mediterranean Basin was adopted, with a dove of peace flying above and the motto of"Rehabilitation without frontiers" underneath. About 500 people participated from 42 countries from all continents! Especially from the Mediterranean Basin were participants from 11 countries.

During the first congress a special meeting, convened by Haim Ring , took place under the title: "A Mediterranean PM&R Society, is it viable?". At that historical meeting they had participate the following pioneers:

  1. Anna Bobinac (Croatia),
  2. Nicolas Christodoulou  (Cyprus),
  3. Christiane Roques and J.F. Mathe (France),
  4. Nicos Tasiopoulos (Greece),
  5. Haim Ring, Morris Azaria, Leon Heller, Jean-Jacque Vatine(Israel),
  6. Luigi Tesio and Salvatore Giaquinto (Italy),
  7. Khalil Al Abbad(Jordan),
  8. Jorge Lains (Portugal),
  9. Crt Marincek (Slovenia),
  10. Ramon Gomez Ferrer and A. Moret (Spain),
  11. Tansu Arasil and Onder Kayhan (Turkey).

Very important decisions were taken and further actions planned:

  1. It was decided to continue the activities, based mainly on a congress every two years.
  2. Haim Ring overtook the leadership of consolidating the Mediterranean organization, establishing contacts and co-ordinating the exchange of ideas, the integration of new countries, etc.
  3. He was helped to an extent by Christian Roques and then Crt Marincek in successive periods.
  4. In 1999 he offered to Nicolas Christodoulou to integrate into the work with the intention then, to mainly establish contact with Arab countries colleagues.

The 2nd Mediterranean Congress of PRM was decided to take place in VALENCIA of Spain on May 1998. The congress president was Ramon Gomez Ferrer. The chairman of the scientific committee was Pr. Antonio Hernandez Royo. The total number of participants was 650. They were present colleagues from the 12 Mediterranean countries.

The 3rd Mediterranean Congress of PRM took place on September 2000 in ATHENS of Hellas. The Congress President was Pr. Xanthi Michail. The total number of participants was 700. Represented countries from the Mediterranean Basin were 14.

The creation of the Society: "Mediterranean Forum of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine" (MFPRM) was decided. Present representatives of Mediterranean countries at that historical meeting were the following:

01.CroatiaKatarina Sekelj-Kauzlaric
02.CyprusNicolas C. Christodoulou
03.EgyptMohamed A. R. El-Abd
04.HellasXanthi Michail
05.IsraelHaim Ring
06.ItalyFrancesco Cirillo & S. Giaquinto
07.JordanKhalil Al Abbad
08.LebanonKhaled T. El Mohtar
09.PortugalJorge Lains
10.SloveniaCrt Marincek
11.SpainAntonio Hernandez Royo
12.TunisiaSamir Kochbati
13.TurkiyeTansu Arasil
14.YugoslaviaNatasa Vucetic

During the meeting, the first Committee of MFPRM was elected, consisted of 7 members:

01.Antonio Hernandez RoyoSpain
02.Francesco CirilloItaly
03.Haim RingIsrael
04.Mohamed El-AbdEgypt
05.Nicolas Christodoulou (Secretary)Cyprus
06.Tansu ArasilTurkiye
07.Xanthi MichailHellas


The mission of the first MFPRM Committee and its Secretary was to:

  1. Prepare a simple and functional Statute,
  2. Exchange ideas with the representatives,
  3. Conduct all interested colleagues to be members of the new Society,
  4. Have the first meeting in Syracuse,
  5. Supervise the organization of the 4th Mediterranean Congress in Syracuse - Sicily - Italy.

During that period a congress was organized, under the auspices of MFPRM, in Greek language, and under the title: "Hellenic & Cypriot Days of PRM". It took place in Limassol of CYPRUS on March 2002. The co-presidents of the organizing committee of that congress were Nicolas Christodoulou and Xanthi Michail.

The 4th Mediterranean Congress of P.R.M. took place in SYRACUSE of  Sicily - Italy, on June 2002. The congress President was Franco Cirillo. Supporting President of SIMFER was Pr. Carlo Bertolini. The total number of participants was 770. Represented countries from the Mediterranean Basin were 16. During that congress the MFPRM Statute was accepted, containing the following provisions:

A. Mission and Goals: 
1. MFPRM to be the scientific Mediterranean body for physicians working in 3 Continents,  Europe, Asia and Africa, around or with close vicinity with the Mediterranean Sea, in the fields of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.
2.To facilitate Mediterranean exchange   regarding:

  1. Different aspects of Rehabilitation research,
  2. Multi-centre trials,
  3. National and Mediterranean projects, meetings and congresses.

3. To organise a biennial Mediterranean Congress of PRM in one of the countries having active members of the Forum.
4. On national level:

  1. To influence national governments, in close co-operation with the national society of PRM,
  2. To support initiatives and co-operation in the field of teaching, development of services and research in PRM.
  3. To provide information to national governments about the contents and evidence based efficacy of PRM.

B. Membership: 
1.Open free (no fees) to all qualified physicians specialised in PRM who are working in any Mediterranean country or a country with close vicinity with Mediterranean Sea, irrespective of race, religion or community. 
2. Those who wish to become active members of the "Forum" must have an e-mail address & should apply to any Board member. 
3. Active members are eligible to participate to the General Assemblies, have the right to be candidates for representatives of their countries and to vote for the election of their country representative to the Council. 
C. A Board conducts the works of the Society:

  1. The Board consists of 7 active members: The President, the Vice-President (who is the Organiser in charge of the next Mediterranean Congress), the Secretary, the Treasurer, and three members of the Board.
  2. The term of the Board is for two years. Its members are elected directly by the countries-representatives (The Council) during the G.A. by secret ballot.
  3. President becomes the nominee who receives the most votes of the Council at the General Assembly.

The 7 members of the first MFPRM Board (2002-04) were the following:

01.Nicolas Christodoulou (President)Cyprus
02.Tansu Arasil (Vice President)Turkiye
03.Jorge Lains (Secretary)Portugal
04.Catherine Dziri (Treasurer)Tunesia
05.Haim Ring (Member)Israel
06.Crt Marincek (Member)Slovenia
07.Alain Delarque (Member)France

Obtaining the Society's official journal: On March 2003, after a close co-operation between Alessandro Giustini, Franco Franchignoni, Paolo Di Benedetto and the Board of MFPRM, we reached an agreement, to transform the name of the journal: "EUROPA MEDICOPHYSICA" to "EUROPA MEDICOPHYSICA - The Mediterranean Journal of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine" and announce it as the official journal of our Society also. Members of the Society were involved at the journal's Editorial Board with an effort to upgrade it, increase its circulation and be indexed. All these targets were gained within two years. 

During that period a Regional Italian congress was organized, under the auspices of MFPRM, under the title:"Giornate Mediterraneo di Riabilitazione". It took place at Napoli from 19-21 June 2003. The presidents of the organizing committee were Pr. Cafeiro and Pr. Raffaele Gimigliano.

The 5th Mediterranean Congress of P.R.M. took place in ANTALYA of Tyrkey, from September 30 to October 4, 2004. The congress President was Pr. Tansu Arasil, and the President of the Scientific Committee was Pr. Gulseren Akyuz. The total number of participants was 800. Represented countries from the Mediterranean Basin were 22. The new (present) Board of MFPRM (2004 - 2006) is consisted of:

01.Nicolas ChristodoulouPresident
02.Jorge LainsVice President
03.Gulseren AkyuzSecretary
04.Amparo Mart. AssucenaTreasurer
05.Franco Cirillo Member
06.Crt MarincekMember
07.Catherine Dziri  Member

On November 2005, the Euro-Mediterranean Rehabilitation Summer School (EMRSS) opened its gates, under the auspices and involvement of our Society and thanks to the active and successful efforts of our Italian colleagues Franco Cirillo  and Alessandro Giustini who was that period the SIMFER president. The School is run by a consortium consisted by: (1) the national society "SIMFER" and the Sicilian regional group, (2) the University Association "Archimede" which represents the town council and the Regional province of Syracusa with the Catania University and (3) the University Association "Megara Ibleo" which represents the twenty-two town councils, which make up the province of Syracusa with the Messina University. At the Board of Governors of this consortium (association) are Franco Cirillo and Salvatore Baio. The School operated under the guidance of the: 
1) Mediterranean Forum of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (MFPRM)
2) European Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ESPRM)
3) International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM).
The Scientific Committee which organizes the training courses is made up from personalities of the Scientific Associations. The Association is financially supported by the Syracuse Town Council, the regional Province and the tourist Board of Syracuse. Thanks to their contributions, it is possible hospitality to be given to the students who will have to pay only for their flying tickets. The subscription fee, food and lodging will be free. Every year the Course is going to deal with a specific topic which will be treated by specialists in the subject. Every year lectures and topics will be chosen by the scientific Committee. Every year the Course will be attended by 40 students (Italians and foreigners).The Italians will be chosen by the Directors of the Schools of specialization in Italy, the foreigners by the Chairman of the Scientific Committee. The announcement of the course will be published at the beginning of every year. The Courses will be held in Syracuse for a week. English will be the official language of the courses. The first year the course lasted only two days (6th and 7th November) since the Italian National Conference started on the 8th November 2005. Nicolas Christodoulou and Haim Ring were the lecturers of the course the first day. The second day the lectures were given by the Italian colleagues: Luigi Tesio, Franco Franchignoni, Michele Vecchio, Marco Franceschini and Franco Molteni. The sessions were on Education and also on Research in Rehabilitation (prospective for technological, clinical and organisational development of Rehabilitation Internationally).

The 6th Mediterranean Congress of P.R.M. took place in VILAMOURA of Algarve - Portugal, from October 18 to 21, 2006. The congress President was Dr. Jorge Lains. The Portuguese Society of PRM with Dr. Pedro Pinto Cantista contributed a lot to the organization and success of the congress. The number of participants was 620 coming from 46 countries. The Portuguese colleagues were 316, representing the 51% of all the participants. 40 colleagues came from Spain, 38 from Turkey, 29 from Israel, 20 from Greece, 15 from Serbia and 12 from USA. All the colleagues from the developing countries had free or a waved registration (equal to the amount of the expenses). During the Congress 248 posters were presented and 272 lectures. The new (present) Board of MFPRM (2006 - 2008) is consisted of:

01.Nicolas ChristodoulouPresident
02.Crt MarincekVice President
03.Gulseren AkyuzSecretary
04.Amparo Mart. AssucenaTreasurer
05.Franco Cirillo Member
06.Jorge LainsMember
07.Xanthi MichailMember
08.Haim RingHonorary Member

On November 2006, we had the 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Rehabilitation Summer School in Syracuse and lasted five days, from the 20 to 24. The main topic of the School was "PAIN and MOBILITY". About 36 young colleagues, members of the Forum, from Italy, Greece, Egypt, Portugal, Serbia, Israel, Slovenia, Turkey and Spain met in the centre of the Mediterranean, and were trained both theoretically and practically. They paid only their flying ticket, the rest of expenses being in charge of the local authorities. The general director of the School Dr. Franco Cirillo made all the possible preparations for the best function of the School. According to the questionnaires filled at the end by the attendants, the School was very successful and all they benefit a lot. Besides the scientific benefit, a friendship between the colleagues from the Mediterranean countries started, which will help for better understanding of different cultural approaches in the Area. The scientific Board of the School consisted of the president of the MFPRM Nicolas Christodoulou, the president of the Italian Society of PRM Raffaele Gimigliano, the incoming president of European Society of PRM  Alessandro Giustini, Marco Franceschini, Franco Franchignoni, Haim Ring, Marsilio Saccavini. The Didactic Committee to this course of "Pain and Mobility" consisted of Nicolas Christodoulou, Raffaele Gimigliano, Roberto Casale, Humberto Cerrel-Bazo, Alessandro Giustini and Marco Francheschini. The Faculty, representing the spirit of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation consisted, in addition of Giovanni Iolascon, Pedro Pinto Cantista, M. Zampolini, Antonio Nardone, F. Scirpo, Franco Molteni and Xanthi Michail, all coordinated by Haim Ring. Besides the immediate positive feedback provided by the students, numerous consistent reports flow in on the students being in touch and making plans for the future.

The next 7th Mediterranean Congress of P.R.M. has been decided to take place in PORTOROSE of Slovenia, from 18-21 September, 2008. The congress president will be Pr. Crt Marincek. Supporting president of the Slovenian Society of PRM will be Dr. Klemen  Grabljevec.

MFPRM has gained the support of  World and International Bodies: Since the first Mediterranean PRM Congress in Herzliya on 1996, the "in-between congresses meetings" of the International Rehabilitation Medicine Association (IRMA), the International Federation of PM&R (IFPMR) and their merge body: International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM), as well as the European Federation of Research in Rehabilitation (EFRR), take place during the works of  the Mediterranean PRM congresses, until nowadays.

The activities of the present Board aim to: 
1. Increase the number of the Society members and the countries participating:
(till now we have 300 members from 22 different countries of the 3 Continents)
2. Help the organizing committee of the next Mediterranean Congress.
3. Support the official journal of the MFPRM : "EUROPA MEDICOPHYSICA - the Mediterranean Journal of PRM". With our support the journal is indexed since July 2005.
4. Support the Euro-Mediterranean PRM School operation: The 3rd School is planned to take place in Syracuse from 19 -23 November 2007 and host about 40 students. The topic of this School will be "Emergency Medicine and Rehabilitation".

The future activities of the Mediterranean Family (MFPRM) and our dreams focus on:

  1. Best organization of the 7th Mediterranean Congress of PRM in Portoroseof Slovenia in 2008 and the future congresses.
  2. Encourage our members to send their scientific work for publication to our official journal "Europa Medicophysica."
  3. Efforts to encourage editors of PRM electronic books to offer them free to our members, like the book: "Advances in Rehabilitation - Assessment in PM&R" of Franco Franchignoni and Michel Barat.
  4. Efforts to develop & empower the "Euro-Mediterranean PRM School" in Syracuse, helping the residents and the young specialists in PRM to enlarge their knowledge to specific areas of scientific interest.
  5. Auspice and encourage national PRM Societies to organize congresses for continuing medical education & professional development: CME/CPD
  6. Substantial help to developing Mediterranean countries to upgrade their Rehabilitation Services, in close co-operation with the PRM specialists of each country. 
  7. Efforts to develop our own WEB SITE, www.mfprm.org to become an important tool of communication.

Our Board has created a list with the benefits of someone to be a member of the MFPRM, which is shown in our current website and has been circulated to the national Mediterranean Societies of PRM. The enlisted benefits are shown as follows:

  1. You are informed for many important issues of our speciality around the Mediterranean Basin.
  2. You have a special discount on registration fees for the Mediterranean Congresses of PRM.
  3. You can be subscriber of our official indexed journal "EUROPA MEDICOPHYSICA", with only 30 euros annually, for the time being.
  4. To be a member of MFPRM you don't have to pay any membership fee. You must be a specialist of PRM, working in one of the Mediterranean countries or a country with close vicinity with a Mediterranean country and have your personal e-mail address. Furthermore, you contribute to the creation of the Mediterranean solidarity between the PRM specialists and you are a part of our Mediterranean Family.
  5. You can have free some electronic books of our speciality.
  6. You can participate to the EMRSS "Euro-Mediterranean Rehabilitation Summer School", established if you are a young specialist or at the final stage of your specialisation in PRM.
  7. You can seek for the help of the Forum for the further development of Rehabilitation Services in your country, or for the organization of specific courses for the improvement of the educational standard and the harmonization of the specialty curriculum around Mediterranean.
  8. With the support of your national society of PRM you can be a candidate to organize in your country a Mediterranean Congress.