Report on the WEVA IM associated with Veterinary Practitioners Association of Thailand Regional Veterinary Conference and the Asian Meeting of Animal Medicine Specialties, Bangkok, Thailand
9-11 May, 2011.
I arrived in Bangkok on the 7th of May having travelled from Spain via London. On Sunday one of the equine vets on the organising committee, Dr Pattama Ritruechai, very kindly showed me around the Bangkok area including the Royal Palace and the floating market about 70 kms from the city centre; I had last visited here 26 years previously and much had changed and the city had doubled in size.
The conference officially opened on the Monday morning and my host was our most recent Board member, Siraya Chunekamrai, past President of VPAT and still a key member of their Board. I had an excellent opportunity to discuss with Siraya the future possible involvement of WEVA in Asia as well as other matters relating to our current modus operandi. On the following day I attended an International Presidents Luncheon, when representatives of many Asian countries including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Singapore, sat with members of VPAT to discuss the best approach to integrating continuing education in Asia. It was an ideal opportunity to promote our Conference in Hyderabad and we received numerous promises from those around the table that the message would be passed on to equine colleagues in these countries. In fact, the small animal tier in Hyderabad might also bring in delegates from around Asia, as well as those from the subcontinent. Several of the people at this meeting were involved with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. They seemed very keen to discuss common problems with WEVA and their treasurer (an Aussie working in Singapore who also attended my lectures) seemed keen to contact us officially as well as coming to Hyderabad. I gave him my business card and he promised to get in touch when he returned to Singapore.
There were over 1,000 delegates, the vast majority interested in small animal practice. However, our equine tier was attended by more than 30 enthusiastic veterinary surgeons from around Asia; in addition to Thais there were a few from Indonesia, Korea, Japan, and Singapore. I shared the speaking with John Madigan from UC Davis, whom I had lost touch with since we last met, many years ago. He gave some excellent lectures on disaster medicine. I gave approximately 7 hours of lectures on various surgical topics.
As sponsor of the sessions WEVA did receive good profile and I presented my usual talk on the role of WEVA. I will leave it to Siraya to adjudicate on the effectiveness of the presentations. However, my strong impression from the floor was that the audience seemed to appreciate the material.
Having now had time to reflect on my trip to VPAT, I am firmly of the view that WEVA must continue to focus upon Asia. Clearly, there is a significant gap in the facilities available and standards of equine treatment possible in some parts of Asia, when compared to those in the West. However, the willingness of young Asian veterinary surgeons to embrace new techniques and therapies, will, allied to an expanding economy, ensure that this gap is gradually narrowed. WEVA may be well positioned to help in that transition.
Bangkok is an excellent possible future conference location for either another WEVA IM or even for a full WEVA Conference. My reasoning for this is the following:
- The country is readily accessible to most other countries in SE Asia and the West, with a new high quality airport.
- It is well used to dealing with tourists in large numbers, passing through airport immigration is easy and no visa is required for tourists from many countries.
- The Impact Centre (with the Novotel) was an excellent venue, but too far out from the town centre to allow easy to-ing and fro-ing for delegates and their partners, if we were to hold a full conference there. Siraya assured me that there are many alternative suitable and more central venues.
- It would allow bolt-on holidays in SE Asia for people attending a full conference in a similar manner to India.
- Continuing education in equine veterinary medicine in SE Asia will become increasingly necessary.
I would like to thank Siraya and her colleagues for being such charming hosts.
Additional note from Siraya:
The topic for the equine stream is "Equine Emergencies and Extreme Casualties Management" whereby Dr. Tim Greet delivered the surgical aspects of management in various conditions and Dr. John Madigan delivered other situations veterinarians must deal with. Both presentations lent themselves well to the important role veterinarians must take when faced with extreme situations such as natural disasters, barn fires, road accidents, getting horses out of difficult terrains and sports related injuries. This included the important aspect of recruiting non-veterinary professionals and also handling of the press. As situations like these are high profile in many media reports, it is a good opportunity for the veterinarian to be the champion of animal welfare not only behind the scenes but also in the public eye.
The post congress workshop was held in conjunction with the World Society for Animal Protection (WSPA) at the cavalry stables in the heart of Bangkok. Dr. Ian Dacre and the Disaster Management Team in WSPA Bangkok office supported the equipment and facilitated the workshop.