A busy year of regional congresses came to an end with the 8th Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress in Melbourne in late October. The city and its people provided a warm welcome to delegates and the Scientific Committee, co-chaired by Simon Harvey (Australia), Shih Hui Lim (Singapore) and Shunglon Lai (Taiwan) ensured a terrific congress program. The main congress topics:
- Depression and Epilepsy
- Prevention of Epilepsy
- Predictors of Outcome of Epilepsy
- Epilepsy and Driving
- lent themselves to discussion of the social problems faced by people with epilepsy, their carers and healthcare providers. This was a very welcome aspect to the overall programme providing another opportunity to increase community awareness of epilepsy in order to change attitudes and to help reduce stigma.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, to coincide with the congress, the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria hosted a Service Practitioners Forum immediately before the start of the congress,which was attended by 44 staff members epilepsy associations from all parts of Australia as well as from New Zealand. The full day meeting discussed topics of interest to all and also provided the platform to share knowledge and experiences of best practice.
Epilepsy & Society
The special program for people with epilepsy titled Epilepsy & Society was a highlight of the congress with 234 delegates attending. Organised by the IBE Western Pacific Regional Committee supported by the South East Asian Regional Committee, this was one of the largest attendances at such an event.
The major highlight of this day was the presentation of the Outstanding Persons with Epilepsy awards. This was the 5th time that these awards had been presented since they were first intorduced during the 4th Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress in Nagano, Japan under the guidance of Dr Park (Korea), Dr Marshall (Taiwan), Dr Kubota (Japan) and Dr Mehndiratta (India). The idea behind the awards is to encourage people with epilepsy not be embarrassed or ashamed of their condition and to fight to overcome the heavy culturally defined stigma and discrimination that exists in the region.
Recipients of the award in Melbourne:
- Dr Michelle Bellon, Australia
- Ms Cindy Li, China
- Ms Li Ying Yi, Hong Kong
- Ms Kavita D Shanbhag, India
- Mrs Noriko Fukui, Japan
- Mr T Munkh-Aldar, Mongolia
- Dr Mike Hills, New Zealand
- Dr Ronald Magbitang, Philippines
- Ms Shih-Min Li, Taiwan
There excellent presentations during the Epilepsy & Society program. Graham Scambler from University College of London presented a keynote address on epilepsy and stigma; popular Australian television sports presenter and past Australian Rugby League captain Wally Lewis, spoke movingly, and not without a generous dollop of humour, of his own experience of epilepsy spanning more than 20 years.
New Chinese Term for Epilepsy
An item of special importance was the news on the change of the Chinese term from epilepsy, which Anchor Hung explained. In Hong Kong, the Chinese (Cantonese) word had caused much suffering to the persons with epilepsy, labelled ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ because of the old term, where the Chinese 1st character ‘dian’ meant ‘crazy’. This had resulted in epilepsy being regarded as a mental illness.
The new term is a simple description of the biological nature of the condition, referring to ‘brain’. This small change in the Chinese character now shows the condition to be neurological, thus instanting reducing the stigma burden. This was a monumental achievement as there are strict laws in place regulating the Chinese language and which are difficult to change. Following on the Hong Kong, the Korean government has also changed the word for epilepsy to a more suitable name.
Regional Committees Meet
Regional congress provide a great opportunity for IBE Member associations to meet and such was the case in Melbourne, with meetings of the South East Asian Regional Committee and the Western Pacific Regional Committee. There was a very good representation of IBE members at each of these meetings giving the opportunity to report on activities at local level as well as to formulate plans for joint activities moving forward. The meetings were followed by a joint meeting of the two regional committees and the chance to relax thanks to a very pleasant Cocktail Reception.
Thanks are due to Robert Cole, Dr HV Srinivas and their committees for making these meetings possible. Particular thanks are due to Robert, Denise Chapman and Graeme Shears who worked hard over a long period of time to make sure that the Epilepsy & Society programme was the success. They certainly succeeded!
The huge scale of the Melbourne Congress building gave us a great opportunity to showcase the work of IBE members in the region. An exhibition of Members Posters demonstrated the tremendous scope and diversity of activities carried out by epilepsy associations in the region. Almost thirty posters lined the walkway at the congress centre and were much admired by delegates.
Click here to download the 8th AOEC Members Posters (5.49 MB).
We are now planning an extra special poster display in Rome!
Promising Strategies Showcased
Since its creation in 2005, the Promising Strategies Program of IBE has supported more than 30 project around the world. In Melbourne we showcased the projects that IBE has funded in the South East Asian and Western Pacific regions since the program began with another poster display.
This was enhanced by an exhibition of the craftwork created by the Seahorse club in Shanghai, which received funding to create an artists studio in the last round of funding. Thanks are due to Dr Ding Ding, who was kind enough to bring to Melbourne framed pictures, beadwork, calligraphy and clothwork created by the people with epilepsy who are supported by the club in Shanghai.