13th MASEAN Mid-Term Meeting (Philippines)
This year’s meeting of the 10 member associations of the Medical Association of South East Asian Nations was held from 19 to 21 May 2009 at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It was an especially grand occasion as the host, Philippine Medical Association (PMA), timed the 13th MASEAN Mid-term Council Meeting to coincide with the 102nd PMA Annual Convention.
Our hosts started off the dinner with the Philippine National Anthem, followed by the PMA Hymn. Dr Marianne O. Dobles delivered the opening remarks as the overall Chairperson of both the events, followed by Dr Rey Melchor F. Santos, current President of PMA. Buffet dinner was served, allowing the guests to mingle and catch up with old friendships and gossip. For official entertainment, the Bayanihan Dance Troupe, the awardwinning national dance company of the Philippines, performed. The dancers were all skillful, with a lovely mix of traditional and modern influences in their dances. After a night of song and dance, we went back to our room for a good rest in preparation for the meetings over the next few days.
Early in the morning on 20 May, we attended the grand opening ceremonies, where the various PMA officer bearers, affiliated societies, and heads of MASEAN delegations took the stage after a processional march. The Philippine national flag was also brought in by Honour Guards from the Marines. Welcoming speeches by Dr Santos, Dr Dobles and the current MASEAN chairman, Prof Sommone Phounsavath, from Laos were delivered. The MASEAN committee then adjourned to start our own session. Each of the member associations first presented their country report, giving an update on the key events organised by the association since the last time we met in Vientiane, Laos, in November last year. Next, each country gave a short presentation on “The Relationship between Managed Healthcare Schemes, Health Insurance and Medical Practice”.
The next day, we continued with the MASEAN business meeting. Of note, there is one proposed amendment to the MASEAN constitution. As member countries currently do not pay subscription fees, the proposal is to set subscription fees which reflect the developmental status of each member country, though payment will be on a voluntary basis. In addition, the proposal suggests that MASEAN work with governments, professional or commercial organisations to establish funding for the benefit of all member nations. A committee has been set up to discuss these changes, and it will present its findings at the 14th MASEAN Council Meeting in Myanmar next year.
The Council also passed a resolution to establish a Dr MK Rajakumar Oration at each biennial MASEAN Conference, to honour the founding father of MASEAN. The speaker shall be nominated and invited to speak on various topics, with an emphasis on primary healthcare. After the official meetings, our gracious hosts kindly organised a shopping trip for us. The atmosphere was relaxed as we exchanged even more unofficial news of colleagues and friends we have in common, while trying to bargain for goods. In all, it was a good meeting with some important outcomes, and it also offered further opportunities to strengthen the ties between the various medical associations. We thank the Philippine Medical Association for the warm welcome and excellent hosting over the few days, with good food, good fun, and most importantly, good company.