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History of WFSA


After the end of the Second World War anaesthetists found that international travel became more widely available. This coupled with a desire to learn from others and exchange experiences led, through a series of other meetings, to the establishment of an Interim Committee which met in 1953 and 1954.

In 1955 the first World Congress of Anaesthesiologists was held at Scheveningen in the Netherlands and at the end of the Congress the WFSA was formed. 26 Societies were represented with a further 16 observing.

The original members in attendance were: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain & Ireland, India, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The observing countries were: Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Hawaii, Hungary, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Turkey, USA, USSR and Yugoslavia.

Members of the Interim Committee including, front row second from the left, Dr Harold Griffith, a pioneering anaesthetist and the first to use muscle relaxants (Montreal 1942).

At the Congress the delegates agreed the objectives of the Federation as being “exclusively educational, scientific, and charitable in nature” and “to make available the highest standards of anaesthesia, pain medicine, trauma management, resuscitation, and preoperative/critical care medicine to all peoples of the world and to disseminate the same amongst them”.

These are little changed since 1955.

Following the extraordinary achievements of these pioneers further World Congresses took place together with a rise in the number of members of WFSA.

  • Toronto 1960 (36 Societies)
  • Sao Paulo 1964 (47 Societies)
  • London 1968 (59 Societies)
  • Kyoto 1972 (65 Societies)
  • Mexico City 1976
  • Hamburg 1980
  • Manila 1984
  • Washington 1988
  • The Hague 1992
  • Sydney 1996
  • Montreal 2000
  • Paris 2004
  • Cape Town 2008
  • Buenos Aires 2012 (125 Societies)
  • Hong Kong 2016 (134 Societies)
  • Prague 2021 (133 Societies)
  • Singapore 2024 (140 Societies)

The location of the next two World Congresses is already known, with the cycle decided four years in advance.

Today WFSA has 140 Member Societies representing 150 countries around the world. It continues to pursue the objectives agreed by its founding members and to improve the standards of patient care around the world.

The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – 50 years

Published in 2005, World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – 50 years, celebrates the golden jubilee of WFSA’s establishment. Editors, Antonino Gullo and Joseph Rupreht collected chapters from a range of contributors to tell the story of the first half-century of the WFSA.