The Association of Pediatric Societies of the Southeast Asian Region (APSSEAR) was first formed on 25th April 1974 by a group of Asian pediatricians with visions of unity and were keen to have a regional organization. APSSEAR became affiliated with the International Paediatric Association (IPA) and eventually became “one of the most effective regional pediatric associations in IPA” (quote from Professor Michael Gracey, President of IPA).
In the 26 years of its existence, the President changed with each Asian Congress of Pediatrics (ACP) – the last ACP saw the transition from Dr. Chok-Wan Chan (Hong Kong) to Dr. Hung-Chi Lue (Taiwan). The only constant executive committee members were the Secretary-General, Prof Perla Santos Ocampo and the Treasurer, Dr. Lino Edralin Lim from the Philippines. Dr. Santos Ocampo was assisted by Dr. Lulu Bravo, also from the Philippines. During the loth ACP, Dr. Santos Ocampo ended her tenure as Secretary-General and was nominated as Honorary President and affectionately called the “Mother of APSSEAR by Dr. Chok-Wan Chan. The newly elected Secretary-General is Prof Datuk Dr. Mohd Sham Kasim. He will be assisted by Prof Zulkifli Ismail, and the Treasurer is Dr. Koh Chong Tuan. With this announcement, the APSSEAR secretariat will move from the Philippines to Malaysia. In addition to the honor of being the secretariat, we also have a great responsibility in trying to continue the good work of the Philippines – all eyes will be on us for the next few years and the yardstick of measurement is the secretariat in the Philippines.
APSSEAR member countries total 20 with New Zealand being the eastern-most and Pakistan in the west. Brunei is set to join as the 2ist member country. With such a wide geographical distribution, there was a resolution to change the name to encompass other countries, not in the Southeast Asian region. We’ll just have to wait for the decision of a select committee of past presidents led by Dr. Perla Santos Ocampo to see what new name will replace the familiar APSSEAR. Among the Past-Presidents is our own Dato’ Dr. Sam Abraham.
APSSEAR organizes the Asian Congress of Pediatrics every three years. It has also published a silver jubilee book (Challenges and Opportunities for Child Health in the New Millennium) on APSSEAR over the last 26 years. Three editions of “The State of Asian Children” has also been published with the third edition being released at the loth ACR Pre-Congress workshop recommendations are sent to various agencies through the International Pediatric Association (IPA) so that they can be made accessible to all and implementation can be affected. A newsletter is also sent to all member countries. A new journal tentatively named Asia-Oceania Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health will be launched soon. With the move of the secretariat to Malaysia at the beginning of the 21st century, the support of all pediatricians is sought to make it a success.