Date: 24 Nov 2011
Over 400 eye care professionals, researchers and scholars from 22 countries gathered at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre in Singapore from 24-26 November 2011 for the 18th Asia Pacific Optometric Congress, which was jointly hosted by the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry (APCO), the Singapore Optometric Association and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The mission of the APCO is to facilitate the enhancement and development of primary eye and vision care by optometrists in the Asia and Pacific region; the theme of the three-day conference was “Optometry – A Primary Eye Care Profession”. There were over 50 plenary presentations, over 40 poster presentations, and a range of Industrial exhibitions.
The participants were welcomed by Dr. Akio Kanai, President of the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry, and Dr. Koh Liang-hwee, President of the Singapore Optometric Association, at the beginning of the opening ceremony, and Mr. Gan Kim-yong, Singapore’s Minister for Health, gave the opening remarks. Mr. Gan mentioned the theme “primary eye care” is timely in Singapore; the ministry had embarked on the journey of allowing Singapore Optometrists to use diagnostic drugs in the future. This was indeed very good news to the profession.
The Congress had received much publicity in Singapore. It was reported in both English and Chinese National newspapers and broadcast in national and regional (Channel News Asia) television news in 4 different languages. The first speaker, Prof. David Wong, Director of the Eye Institute and Albert Young Endowed Chair Professor in Ophthalmology, The University of Hong Kong, shared his experience of engaging optometrists to perform eye screening with special emphasis on diabetes identification and how it has provided improved care with reduced cost and risk of blindness for these patients.
Dr. Jacqueline Chua, Lecturer, Singapore Polytechnic-University of Manchester Optometry Degree Programme presented her case of identifying an eye tumour in a 7-year-old boy during a routine vision screening programme by herself and her students of Optometry. Three other invited presenters Dr. Cindy Tromans (UK), Dr. Daryl
Guest (Australia); Dr. Lim Tock-han shared their volume of personal experience in expanding the scope of primary eye care in their respective countries. The symposium on the role of optometrists in public health highlights the endeavours from optometrists in promoting eye health in their countries with means of eye care schemes, intervention programs and multi-disciplinary approaches.
A gala dinner was held on the evening of 24 November at the Singapore Flyer. At the dinner, Dr. Akio Kanai announced to attendees that APCO’s executive committee has been elected for a two-year term of office, including representatives from Japan, Fuji, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. At the dinner, Optometry students from Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic performed beautiful singing and dancing. A group of Sri Lankan delegates sang a lovely ancient song in their language, which received rapturous applause. At the evening, there was also a reunion of distinguished delegates who had joined the very first APOC (which was then named International Federation of Asian and Pacific Associations of Optometrists) in Manila in 1978. They were Dr. Akio Kanai, Dr. Primitiva Perez, Dr. Usman Husin and Mr. Tan Kheng-lian. A sheer 33 years of passion, dedication and contribution deserve a salute from the profession in this region!