Last month, I had the great honor and pleasure to attend the IASP-sponsored ASEAPS (Association of South-East Asian Pain Societies) Pain Management Camp and the 7th ASEAPS Congress in Yangon, Myanmar. I hope that IASP members share my pride in belonging to an organization that enables health-care professionals from limited-resource countries to learn the latest information on diverse pain topics. The pain camp and congress also allowed participants to develop relationships and a network to help them improve pain care, education, and research in their countries.
Twenty-eight individuals from varied medical and allied health disciplines attended the pain camp. In addition to Myanmar, participants hailed from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, and Cambodia. Eighteen distinguished local and international faculty participated; it was especially gratifying that the faculty included a previous pain camp participant!
Lectures and case-based discussion focused on pain physiology, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, pharmacological approaches to pain management, psychological concepts and skills, and other important aspects of pain. Participants also engaged in discussion of how to set up acute pain services and multidisciplinary pain clinics with limited resources. A highlight was a visit to Yangon General Hospital to see patients with pain who had volunteered to be interviewed. The camp culminated in a daylong pain management Refresher Course preceding the ASEAPS Congress.
Pain camp participants provided unanimous and enthusiastic feedback that the lectures and discussions were extremely informative, relevant, and useful. They also said the camp increased their commitment to improve pain care in their local settings and make changes based on what they had learned.
At the opening ceremony of the ASEAPS Congress, Dr. Myint Htwe (pictured at left), Union Minister, Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports, gave an impressive and inspiring talk that emphasized the need for improved pain care, education, and research. His clear commitment to improving such efforts in Myanmar was evident. Throughout the rest of the two and one-half-day meeting, more than 460 delegates from 30 countries heard state-of-the-art lectures by international experts on such topics as neuropathic pain, opioid use, multidisciplinary pain management, cancer pain, and chronic pain.
I especially would like to acknowledge the hard work and extraordinary efforts of ASEAPS President Prof. Dr. Myint Thaung; ASEAPS 2017 Organizing Chairperson and Myanmar Society for the Study of Pain President Prof. Dr. Khin Myo Hla; and IASP Councilor Mary Cardosa that led to the outstanding success of the pain camp and congress. IASP’s Myanmar chapter is one of our most multidisciplinary chapters, and its accomplishments in a short time and with limited resources are quite remarkable.
Finally, the generosity and collaboration of the pain camp organizers and faculty who worked tirelessly and selflessly to make the pain camp a success is truly inspiring. I hope you will join me in congratulating our ASEAPS colleagues on their achievements.
The ASEAPS pain camp and congress are wonderful examples of how IASP achieves its mission of bringing together scientists, clinicians, health-care providers, and policymakers to stimulate and support the study of pain and translate that knowledge into improved pain relief worldwide.
Judith Turner, PhD
Attending the gala dinner of the ASEAPS Congress (left to right) were Thai Association for the Study of Pain Vice President Supranee Niruthisard; IASP Councilor Mary Cardosa; outgoing IASP-ASEAPS liaison Troels Jensen and his wife, Helle Jensen; IASP President Judy Turner; Myanmar Society for the Study of Pain President Khin Myo Hla; and ASEAPS President Myint Thaung.