President’s Message - January 2006
Date: 3 January 2006
I wish to begin with congratulations and apologies to the members of the MPA. Congratulations for having developed such patience over the past year; and apologies because we have presumed upon your patience! The Secretary, who has taken over the publication duties, has explained elsewhere the reasons for the delay in coming out with this Newsletter, and if you think we are giving excuses, you are probably right, and as the President I will accept responsibility!
The past year has been truly a busy one. I am very pleased to announce that the MPA has been placed squarely in the international arena. We have been asked to contribute to numerous international and regional efforts to improve psychiatric services. We have been, and still are being, invited to participate in International Conferences to share our experiences in providing, for example, emergency psychiatric services for victims of trauma. In my capacity as President I have attended and spoken, among others, at the World Psychiatric Association Regional Conference in Athens, the International Conference on Culture and Psychiatry in Sydney, and the 1st SAARC Conference in Agra. I have had to turn down other invitations or send a representative. Many of our presentations have been well-received. I remember particularly the presentation in Sydney on psychosocial services for the tsunami victims, chaired by Professor Beverly Raphael, where I presented a paper on the lessons we learned from our experience in Aceh. The MPA has also been active in helping to set up the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations. The interim chairperson of this Federation is our own indefatigable Prof. Deva. Ever since the tsunami (even before I think) he has become the name for championing international assistance for the psychosocial needs of the people in the developing world. He is also the Chair of the WPA Section on Psychiatry in Developing Countries. I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that “Tsunami Deva” is Malaysian psychiatry’s most famous export!
The Ministry of Health has kindly invited us to contribute at a number of meetings. We have also forged good relationships with foreign bodies such as the University of Melbourne. With the help of the pharmaceutical industry we are able to send young psychiatrists for month-long attachments in Melbourne. Two have already benefited from this.
The most exciting thing that is going to happen this year is, undoubtedly, the 19th World Congress of Psychotherapy in conjunction with the MCPM. We have held many international conferences before, but not a World Congress of this nature. I am sure members will make a special effort to attend, both to contribute and learn from lecturers of international standing. There will be more than 10 workshops. Besides, the MPA BGM will also be held then.
Some members may be aware that there has been an effort to form the Malaysian Chapter of the South Asia Forum. The South Asia Forum, which began as an association of psychiatrists from the countries of South Asia has gradually expanded to more than 15 countries. It has members now from Canada, USA, Britain, South Africa, Australia and Thailand, and even in the Middle East, to name a few. The SAF has done great work in assisting Asian peoples suffering from the effects of trauma, the more recent examples being the tsunami and the earthquake in Pakistan. I was astounded to hear that the SAF raised more than US$50000 to help the victims of these disasters. Compare this with the $20000 contributed by the World Psychiatric Association. If MPA members are interested to participate in the various activities of the SAF please make sure you attend the launching of the Malaysian Chapter of the SAF in August 2006 at the World Congress.
The financial status of the MPA remains healthy. We attend meetings at our own expense or by seeking other sources of funding, through the MPA. All these augur well for the future of the MPA.
But there is a lot that still needs to be done.
More later. Wishing you all success in every good endeavour in this year.
Professor T. Maniam