© 2013 by Asian Medical Students' Association Alumni Club

AMSAAC Newsletter #5

September 30, 2014

In this issue we talk about

  • an interview with the founder of AMSA and AMDA, Dr. Suganami

  • AMSAAC reunion dinner in Bangkok, Thailand

  • AMSA Throwback: Eddy talks about his experience organising AMSC

  • the founding of AMSAAC-UK, and

  • upcoming AMSA conferences

- Editor, Juin Yi Ng (JY)

An Interview with Dr. Suganami



In this issue we have the pleasure of interviewing the one of the founders of AMSA as well as AMDA, Dr. Shigeru Suganami from Japan:


What acted as a catalyst in establishing AMSA in 1980 was my medical mission to the Cambodian refugee camp in Khao-I-Dang, Thailand. The mission took place in 1979 and I was accompanied by two medical students from Okayama University. "We will not deal with organizations without any credentials or proven record for our medical activities on the refugee camp." This was the flat refusal by the UNHCR, which made me aware that good intention alone cannot accomplish anything in the face of the harsh reality of the international community. To build better Asia through medicine was my sincere wish and goal at the time of the AMSA inception.



It was in 1984 that I founded AMDA. Over the past 30 years, AMDA, in its earnest quest to realize world peace, has carried out more than 160 projects in 65 countries. These experiences helped me to reaffirm my perception that peace means coexistence of diversity. The three basic pillars that sustain this notion of coexistence of diversity are concepts of "open-sogo-fujo", "partnership" and "local initiative". Just to clarify the terms, "open-sogo-fujo" means extending assistance to communities outside your own; "partnership" implies respect and trust that come from enduring hardship together; "local initiative" is prioritizing local culture and system of values.

The aim of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Peace, in short "GPSP", is to enlighten the world on the three concepts above. As the means to do this, we will seek further expansion in the four fields; namely peace building, livelihood support, education and health promotion. We will work by networking with the array of diverse public entities, UN and its related organizations, governmental offices and universities.



Let me talk about one of the most memorable and happy meetings of my life. It happened on the 26th of December, 2004. Ms. Dara Rosmailina Pabittei, Overall Chairperson of AMSA International, and Mr. Adli Ali, Liaison Officer for AMDA, AMSA International at that time, came to meet me at the AMDA Headquarters. According to them, I, the founder of AMSA, was the person whom they wanted to meet for so long.

It was on this very day that the earthquake occurred off the coast of Sumatra followed by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean claiming unprecedented number of victims and causing damages of astronomical proportions. AMDA dispatched medical teams of over 100 professionals from 7 different countries. They implemented emergency medical services in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. In Indonesia, medical students of AMSA Indonesia worked hand in hand with members of AMSA Japan in carrying out medical services to the affected population. And this was also the moment that AMDA in its 20 years since its inception was finally able to work together with AMSA. It was a moment when my dream has finally come true.

In the future I hope to see more collaborative actions with AMSA on a regular basis. It would be a great joy for me if you could join us as we embark on our renewed commitment to disseminate the fundamental concepts of "open-sogo-fujo", "partnership" and "local initiative" throughout the world for the sake of the ultimate goal, peace in Asia and the world. 

Photos courtesy of Dr Rico Natalio and Dr Shigeru Suganami. Find out more about AMDA International at http://www.amdainternational.com/

AMSAAC Reunion Dinner in Bangkok, Thailand


It was unfortunate that the AMSC Bangkok and the accompanying AMSAAC Reunion Dinner were cancelled due to political instability in Bangkok. But that didn't deter our fellow AMSAAC members from meeting up! Below is report from Dr. Deibby (Indonesia/Singapore) on the informal reunion that went on in Bangkok.

The 2nd AMSAAC meeting in Bangkok was something I've looked forward to. So when it was cancelled officially I was pretty disappointed. Hence when the correspondence with Eddy (Aprilianto Eddy, Indonesia/the Netherlands) - the AMSAAC Secretary General and Taka (Takaaki Sato, Japan/UK) - our dear Membership Officer and Henry (Ming Jung, Taiwan) indicated that they're coming, I was pleasantly satisfied. It is not going to be a usual AMSAAC, but it's gonna be a gathering of friends and from far away places (Eddy from the Netherlands, Taka from UK and Henry from Taiwan) coming together to build a connection. Awesome, I am all in.

So on the 11th August, me and my husband, JC (he's a Singaporean Ophthalmologist), arrived in Bangkok. The flight was delayed, so we had to miss the dinner with Hong - the former AMSA Thailand RC with Eddy and Henry. Tired and sleepy we were happy that our hotel, Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, was comfortable. The day after I finally met Taka with his beautiful, ENT-trained girlfriend: Olga; Eddy and Henry (well-traveled Taiwan Regional Contact Person who is a pediatrician and National Park Lecturer) and his son Hudden.

Since we are in Thailand and we are in holiday mood, first itinerary was to: have massage! We got Taka to recommend us to Happy Land, a massage place, suited to its name is a happy land that combines good massage and very reasonable rate. We booked the same room to experience group foot massage. It was a great bonding experience when our backs were being 'pumelled' at the same time.

After massage we got hungry. So with the recommendation from yours truly, together we went to search the famous Boat Noodle at Victory Monument. Armed with only information that the restaurant is located near river around the Victory Monument we boldly made our way only to find that we can't see any river. After fruitless attempts to ask the locals: "Where is the river?", we finally grabbed some gentlemen in military uniform and I started to gesture eating noodle with chopstick. It finally dawned on them that we were there to eat THE famous noodle :). So they pointed out to northwest of the location we were standing. When we found the place, it was actually nearer to the Victory Monument BTS, and we were walking full circle to get there (and the river was probably something historical, as we found something more like a remnant of a river next to a famous boat noodle). The noodles were worth the walk in the sun and quest thereafter. We had so many servings. But Eddy took the crown of number of bowls of noodles finished. Eddy finished the lunch with a grand gesture of treating us all. Goodie!

Our adventure continued to Chatuchak Market. The place is massive and we were started to feel roasted... So we were trying to shop, to stay together, and most importantly, not turned into a melted mess... We did lose Taka and Olga, but with persistence and determination we aka Eddy managed to locate them. All ends well with great buys.

Of course the end of a great day must be concluded with a great dinner. We had a toast for the future, happiness and next year's attendance. 

And Muki, our AMSA Liaison Officer for AMSAAC, a 3rd Year in Chulalongkorn University, came to join us and took us to Princess Terrace, a nice restaurant by the Chao Phraya river. Adli Ali, a pediatrician from Malaysia then joined us. It was a great time! Some of us that present that dinner actually are and were practicing aesthetic medicine. SO we trade secrets and stories and advice and precautions!

We went back to the hotel and had a meeting for next year's gathering. Taz, an emergency physician from Thailand joined us. As much as we want to go on and on, we realized we're not getting younger and we did feel tired and sleepy. So at 12 midnight all the Cinderellas went back to their rooms. The day after Eddy would fly back to the Netherlands and Henry will explore more of Thailand to Hua Hin.

One event worth mentioning is that yours truly met the charismatic AMSA OC that just passed his baton, Samuel Vo and the standing Secretary of Finance, Gregory Kwon. We shared life, and future endeavors over a meal that was made possible because all the flights we were supposed to be on were delayed that evening. What a chance meeting! Wish the best to Samuel who is on his last leg of med school and all the best to Gregory for his studies. See you in Singapore in 2015!

Photos courtesy of Dr Deibby Mamahit and Dr Aprilianto Eddy.

AMSA Throwback: Eddy Talks about His Experience Organizing AMSC


In our first AMSA Throwback section, we have Dr. Eddy from AMSAAC Indonesia telling us his experience organizing the AMSC in Jakarta, 2003. Dr. Eddy is a lecturer/docent in Faculty of Medicine University of Indonesia, Jakarta and also a postdoctoral researcher in The Netherlands.

Before imagination

I have been in Bangkok 3 times (20th AMSC 1999, 25th AMSC 2004 and the recent reunion in Bangkok). Back then, I remember how we, as Indonesian delegates, were very enthusiastic to go to AMSC. We enjoyed everything prepared by the organizing committee, such as cultural night where each delegates wore their traditional attire and perform their traditional or modern cultures. Amazing! We all agreed that we had a great time during the 20th AMSC. In the plane, back to Indonesia, we shared all the joys and experiences, and came to a crazy idea: "Why are we not showing the hospitality and sharing the joy in Indonesia?". We set a small group of people as steering committee that were willing to get involved and prepared the timeline. That was still in 1999. We thought 2003 was the best time to hold it as we would have enough experience to learn from various AMSCs in between.

At the beginning 
The first AMSC in Indonesia was in 1990 (Jakarta-Bali), the second was in 1996 (Jakarta-Jogyakarta). Therefore we thought we should create something different. It came out there was great enthusiasm to hold it in three cities: Jakarta-Bandung-Jogyakarta and ending with a post conference tour in Bali. We were going to do a road trip on Java Island. As a steering committee, we kept on going small, not more than 10 people to be more flexible, and a solid team.We contacted and sent proposals to Dean offices, government and hospital offices, as well as tourism department and centers and potential sponsors. We were hand in hand for around a year preparing all the materials before the bidding, and meanwhile were also having several times gathering to update each other with the progress and for team building.And... we won the bidding!!!


The next step

We were thrilled. Happy and worried at the same time. We were in the middle of economic crisis, and we had also just heard that the previous AMSC in Indonesia had left some unfinished business which might affect AMSA's reputation and our plan. We chose to go forward. The aim was one for sure, a memorable 23rd AMSC in Indonesia. That was unbargainable.First year's plan was to prepare the core items, contacting important persons and institutions for support. That was the busiest period for the AMSC 2003 steering committee. We started with zero money, but rich of motivations. 6 months before AMSC itself, we aimed to have everything ready, and that should be before the registrations come in. In short, we should be ready for any element of surprise. As you can imagine, we were very busy at the time. Everybody shared their tasks and responsibility. I could not imagine not working with those amazing people. All from 10 active AMSA university members at the time were involved. We were lucky, we got support from Deans and Rectors from various universities. From that basis we moved forward and got support from Mayors and Governors in Jakarta, Bandung and Jogyakarta. We then went further to the Presidential office for support.


A dip

Unfortunately we were unable to get the confirmation to meet the President for almost six months waiting and later on the schedule kept changing as of course there were more important National or International activities for the President. Our center in Bandung could not achieve progress target and has to be dropped. There were some deviations on our time plan.At the same time, we had not got any funding yet. That was worrisome. Some debates also existed and of course many more frustrating stuff had happened, not mentioning our core business as medical students. To calm down and have a helicopter view of our progress we did an outbound for the organizing committee in Kawah Putih, Bandung.


The star light

After the several postponed meetings, the President of Indonesia agreed to officially open AMSC, The Governor of Jakarta would be providing the welcome dinner, Sultan as Governor of Jogyakarta agreed to host cultural dinner and Gadjahmada University Rector and Dean of Faculty of Medicine agreed to host the closing ceremony. We gained even more confidence. From those, we had leverage our prestige and at the same time could reduce the possible expenditure.


We tried to encourage organizing committee members to go for each AMSC through various way: as general delegates, as executive committees, or through academic competition. In 23rd AMSC 2002 in Japan, Indonesian supplied members to help as group leaders. Later, the AMSC 2002 committee granted us a generous amount of funding, which created the idea of seed funding for the next AMSC. We passed this seed money through to the AMSC committee for the 25th AMSC Thailand 2004.


AMSC 2003 was a great success, at least for us the organizing committee. It paid off when we saw our friends from other AMSA regions enjoying the conference. We were also happy that various universities in Indonesia that previously had not joined AMSA also got the opportunity to experience AMSC.


The lifetime experience

I might have not yet been telling all the details nor chronologically correct on describing the story. However, all of those above can be rounded up as a lifetime experience. We learned, shared, experienced a process to host an international event, team building, working together, time management, fund raising, lobbying, negotiating, transparent reporting and more. The process of preparing AMSC was a point to help us as AMSA member (especially AMSA Indonesia) to grow up. To expand and also to create a nice memory that last forever.


I hope more and more AMSA members could experience this. AMSA has grown up and while keeping the spirit of knowledge, action and friendship, would need another level of AMSC. The courage of Asian region has gone beyond another border. AMSA Alumni Club (AMSAAC) is surely need to be part for supporting AMSA of improving AMSA into the next level.

Photos courtesy of Dr Aprilianto Eddy and Dr Henry Tanojo.


Do you have some interesting stories that you would like to share with us? It could be in articles or photos with captions. Contact amsaac.editor@gmail.com or Juin Yi Ng for more information.

The Founding of AMSAAC-UK


AMSAAC-UK is now up and running! In this article Dr Jasmine Yue chronicles how a reunion dinner leads to the realization of AMSAAC-UK.

After the first members of AMSA-UK graduated from University to embark on life as a doctor; many felt a void in which the society had filled in the medical school days. In 2013, after networking with members in other countries following his last trip to Malaysia AMSA alumni meeting in 2013, our original founder, Takaaki Sato, decided it was time to set up an Alumni group which will be focused on catering to former AMSA-UK members.

A meeting was arranged in a cosy bistro, Gregg's Bar & Grill, in South London near Borough Market in March 2013. It was a gorgeous evening just before the weekend and London was buzzing with energy. Although it was a small event, it attracted members from all over, including outside of London. It was both a business and leisure affair, where most of the initial conversations revolved around friends catching up with one another about life in general over steak and chips by candlelight. This proved to be much needed as it lasted a whole 3 hours!

We realized how important it was to have these regular meet ups and an agenda was raised about the logistics of this. We decided to call the group AMSAAC-UK to follow on the international group's name. Our different roles were determined after desserts and we went about discussing how we can help with connecting with other members.

We appointed two Regional Contact Persons (RCPs), one in London and the other in Norwich, both previous active members of AMSA-UK. We decided the main role that the group would possibly play would be one of setting up social events and connection with other AMSA Alumni all over the world. Given our Facebook page has 596 members and counting, this would be our starting point for connecting. We have also seen the successful use of Google Groups in the medical world so a Google Group page was also set up to use as a networking medium.

In time, we hope the Alumni group would grow into a networking hub which can help members with any related issues regarding one's progression in their medical career. Although the growth of members is slow at the moment, mainly due to many ex-members leaving the confinements of London for work, we hope that with more awareness and social events, we will be able to capture more with time. We plan to have another social soon and we hope to be sharing this one with the international community again!

Upcoming AMSA Conferences


Here are some of the confirmed dates for upcoming AMSA conferences:

  • 28th EAMSC, Indonesia (10th-15th January, 2015)

  • 35th AMSC, Singapore (5th-12th July, 2015)

  • 29th EAMSC, Taiwan (206, exact date to be announced)

You can follow the updates on the EAMSC Indonesia and AMSC Singapore by following them on their Facebook pages (Clicking on the links will lead to their Facebook pages). In the meantime, we'll update again once we have a confirmed date for our next AMSAAC Reunion Dinner!

Editor's Note


Whew! So Issue 5 is finally out! It's been a learning process for me as well, considering this is my first task editing a newsletter. If you have any suggestion on how to make the newsletter better, please do not hesitate to let me know. :)

On a side note, I've just started my housemanship (or internship in some other regions) in Malaysia. Life has been very hectic, but I'm gradually coping to the workload as well as working hours. It's always a heart warming moment when the patient gets discharged and they gladly returns a 'Thank you' with a smile. :')

Do you have anything that you would like to share with us? It could a collection of photos from previous AMSA events that you've participated in or an article. Send your enquiries or articles to amsaac.editor@gmail.com, or alternatively, you could contact the Chief Editor of AMSAAC Newsletter through Facebook.

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