Thursday, March 22, 2012

PUTTING MALAYSIA ON THE WORLD MAP OF HEALTHY AGEING

The 4-day inaugural World Congress on Healthy Ageing (WCHA) has come to an end. Congratulations to the organizing committee. Who would have thought that the little-known Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS) could pull off hosting an international conference on this scale?

WCHA Organizing Chairman and President of MHAS, Assoc Prof Nathan Vytialingam, was all smiles when delivering his welcoming address. So was Scientific Chairman Dr Wong Teck Wee who spoke at the closing ceremony. And deservedly so. The congress was a runaway success.

All we want is 48 hours of blissful sleep!
The decision to host 1WCHA was made two years ago. When I first heard about it, I thought "Wow, MHAS is ambitious!" With limited funds and manpower, how would MHAS promote the event? Without worldwide publicity, how would they get eminent academicians to speak at the congress? And without them, who would want to register? Where would the financial support come from? The event would surely leave MHAS with heavy losses. KL Convention Centre? You need deep pockets to afford a 5-star venue like KLCC.

I said a silent prayer for MHAS.

As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. With the backing of the World Health Organization as co-sponsor, and the support of an 18-member international advisory panel, the congress drew 1000 delegates from 39 countries. The line-up of speakers was just as impressive. It included faculty luminaries from top universities in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand, Singapore and China.


The decision to hold WCHA at the classy Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre also paid off. Delegates were treated to a spectacular view of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and the sprawling KLCC Park as they networked over cups of tea and coffee during the breaks. Lunch was a love affair to remember, and delegates made a beeline for the banquet room come each lunch break.

And who would have thought the PM's wife, Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, would consent to deliver the keynote address and officially declare open the Congress.

The press kit and the 216-page congress handbook (left) - testimony of the scope of the scientific programme.

Credit must be given to Dr Wong Teck Wee, Scientific Chairman of 1WCHA. The programme was meticulous in details and boasts 8 plenary sessions, 32 symposiums, 14 lectures, 26 workshops and 16 oral presentations. Delegates were definitely spoilt for choice. It was a challenge deciding which concurrent session to attend. My friends and I had to strategize so that we could cover as many sessions as possible.


Poster Competition (top); Healthy Ageing Photo Competition (centre); Banner Gallery of Plenary Sessions (above)

For me personally if there was anything that stood out right from Day 1, it was the strict adherence to the schedule. I love it that no time was wasted waiting for late-comers or for the conference halls to fill up. If there were any hiccups at all, they were minor and barely noticeable. There was little for the delegates to complain about.

True to the congress theme of Holistic Ageing, virtually every aspect of healthy ageing was covered. From early morning Laughter Yoga sessions to late afternoon Qigong workshops...

From Vegetarianism to Erectile Dysfunction....
From The Secrets of Okinawan Centenarians Longevity to Age-Friendly Cities...
From Elders as a Resource to Oncology...

In his closing speech, Dr Wong called upon the delegates "to plant the seed of healthy ageing in each and everyone of us". He also announced that MHAS would issue a consensus statement that would provide a framework for healthy ageing policies.

In case SeniorsAloud readers are wondering why I am devoting so much space to 1WCHA, it's because I am absolutely amazed that MHAS has achieved what bigger organizations have yet to do - put Malaysia on the world map of healthy ageing. I hope the buzz reaches Putrajaya.

I shall be sharing some of the insights I have gained from the congress in future blog posts.

Before we say goodbye. "See you again at World Congress on Healthy Ageing 2 in Johannesburg!"

South Africa will be the next host in 2015. There is no lack of bidders to host future WCHAs - a strong indication of the success of the inaugural WCHA held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Syabas, MHAS!


If you are interested to register as a member of Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society, you can find out more information at their website. Click here to access.

4 comments:

Dr Wong Teck Wee said...

Please share this with your friends

el-f said...

For sure, Dr Wong.

Winston said...

From Vegetarianism to Erectile Dysfunction...

Can being a vegetarian result in one having erectile dysfunction?

el-f said...

I was referring to the wide range of topics. I'm sure vegetarians have no problem in that area! :-)