Wrapping up APAO 2016 in Taipei
The 31st Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress, in conjunction with the 57th annual meeting of the Ophthalmological Society of Chinese Taipei and co-sponsored by the European Society of Ophthalmology, was held from March 24 to 27, 2016, in Taipei. The congress was very well received, bringing together more than 4,500 delegates from 60 countries.
In his welcome speech delivered at the Opening Ceremony, Dennis S.C. Lam, MD, FRCOphth, APAO’s president, highlighted the development of the APAO Congress. It was held once every 4 years initially and became a biennial event in 1979 and an annual event in 2005. As the APAO Congress evolves to become one of the most important ophthalmology congresses worldwide, Lam stressed the five important elements of a successful congress. The most important element is the delegates, whose support and demand for an annual congress in the Asia-Pacific region have contributed to driving both the APAO and ophthalmology forward. Other elements include the speakers, industry support, the organizer and the hosting city.
At the Opening Ceremony, Jan-Tjeerd de Faber, MD, president of the SOE, thanked the local host for its hospitality. “It was heartwarming to see Taipei 101 (a landmark in the city of Taipei) in the colors of the Belgian flag after all the appalling terrorist attack at the Brussels Airport,” de Faber said. International cooperation and comradeship are important not only in the fight against terrorism, but also the fight against preventable blindness for a world where everybody will enjoy the right to sight.
The Opening Ceremony also featured aboriginal music from Chinese Taipei, along with a performance by the famous Ju Percussion Group and the presentation of the eight APAO named awards. The awardees were as follows:
Other highlights of the scientific program included the two plenary sessions held before and after the Opening Ceremony. Chaired by Lam, Hugh Taylor, MD, AC, and Charles McGhee, MB, BSc(Hons), PhD, FRCS(G), FRCOphth, FRANZCO, FRSA, the sessions served as a forum for world-renowned speakers to share innovative advancements in ophthalmology. The scientific program also featured symposia given by Congress co-sponsor SOE and APAO subspecialty member societies, such as the Asia-Pacific Vitreo-retina Society, the Asia-Pacific Glaucoma Society, the Asia-Pacific Society of Ocular Oncology and Pathology and others, and symposiums organized by major international ophthalmic societies, such as the International Council of Ophthalmology, the International Society of Refractive Surgery and others. The submitted program comprised 150 free paper presentations, 30 instruction courses, 301 posters, 465 e-posters and 28 videos. Among all the poster and e-poster presentations, Yu-hsin Wang’s poster, entitled “Investigation of chitosan/polycaprolactone blends for corneal endothelial tissue engineering,” was voted the best poster, while John Akkara’s e-poster, entitled “Application of smartphone devices in ophthalmic photography,” was voted the best e-poster.
In addition to a world-class scientific program, the social program was also memorable. On the evening of March 23, the exhibition at Taipei World Trade Center was opened with a Welcome Reception, which included a traditional Chinese lion dance and a performance inspired by the aboriginal people of Chinese Taipei. Congress President Lin-Chung Woung, MD, DMSc, APAO President Dennis Lam and International Council of Ophthalmology President Hugh Taylor welcomed attendees to Taipei and made a toast to a successful congress.
The Presidential Dinner on March 24 wowed guests with its elaborate food presentation. All the dishes served were designed to look like artwork found inside the museum. Taylor and de Faber were part of the evening’s entertainment when they became puppeteers in a Chinese-style puppet show. Later, the live band invited various attendees on stage for karaoke.
The Congress Gala Dinner and Speakers Reception was held the following evening at the historic Grand Hotel Taipei. Those lucky guests who arrived early could take a tour of the hotel’s secret passages, which were built as an emergency escape route for former President Chiang Kai-Shek. Inside the banquet hall, everyone enjoyed a glowing performance by Diablo Dance Theater. The APAO Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Service in Prevention of Blindness Awards and Achievement Awards were presented during the meal. Finally, Woung gave the Congress flag to Tien Yin Wong, MD, MPH, PhD, president of the next APAO Congress in Singapore in 2017.
In the early morning of March 26, almost 100 participants gathered at Taipei’s Dadaocheng Wharf for the Run for Nepal, a fundraiser for the post-earthquake reconstruction in that country. In total, the run raised around US$13,000, which was donated to the Nepal Ophthalmic Society. This was the first event of its kind, but it will not be the last, as another charity run will be organized at APAO 2017 in Singapore.
The APAO Leadership Development Program Alumni Reception was held that afternoon. This year, a total of 13 graduates were awarded certificates: Mar Amarin (Cambodia), Yih-Shiou Hwang (Chinese Taipei), Shaheeda Mohamed (Hong Kong), Mineo Kondo (Japan), Hae Jung Paik (South Korea), Min Kim (South Korea), Azhany Yaakub (Malaysia), Purnima Sthapit (Nepal), Brent Gaskin (New Zealand), Yvette Marie Santiago (Philippines), Chee-Chew Yip (Singapore), Dilruwani Aryasingha (Sri Lanka) and Puwat Charukamnoetkanok (Thailand).
With more than 4,500 delegates from 60 countries, the 31st APAO Congress in Taipei was another successful meeting for ophthalmologists from around the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Please join us next year for the 32nd Congress in Singapore from March 1 to 5, 2017. More information about APAO 2017 is available at http://2017.apaophth.org.