24 November 2016
Bangkok, Thailand was the site for the 2016 conference of CoMO Asia Pacific members. The valuable few days we spent together reconfirmed the family that CoMO is and the warmth in the relationships we have developed over the six years since our first regional conference held in Perth Western Australia in 2010.
Eight Member organisations from Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia attended and shared in delivering to the theme 'Growing our Region and Why we Advocate - Making us stronger and finding more people like us in the fight against meningitis'.
Guests included Dr Amgad Gamil, from Pfizer and based in Dubai, who presented a regional picture of meningitis and the need for the purposeful alignment of all in the effort to reduce the incidence for all in the region. His session also highlighted that key messages be in local languages and from key local figures 'with everyone working together'. Very in sync with our CoMO Change Equation! Amgad was accompanied by Atchriya Hemachandra M.D. Pfizer (Thailand), Senior Product Physician.
After my welcome and introduction to the conference with a CoMO update and member updates, the afternoon sessions included the 'Why do we Advocate' session with Prof Lulu Bravo (Philippines) and Li Jin Chan (Malaysia), providing perspectives from a larger organisation and a smaller organisation respectively.
Both were very energetic and keenly focused sessions from two very determined and persistent advocates. Well done ladies!
The final session of the day was titled 'How to Survive and Grow for 2017 and Beyond'. This session showcased the Meningitis Centre Australia and its approaching 25 year anniversary and looked at the differing structures of our member organisations. The discussion also included sustainability for the road ahead and how we can assist each other to survive and grow.
Then the obligatory group photo!
Our final morning was devoted to 'How to Find New Friends in Our Region and Keep Them' and 'How to keep what we have and Staying in Touch'. We outlined our 'Friends' campaign and reported on the strategy of approaching the professions in the region and attending their conferences as best we can to meet face to face rather than through email and other electronic means. Bangkok was selected for this very reason and we have met, talked to and obtained the business cards of three likely prospects.
Overall we were very happy to catch up with new and old friends and from our welcome drinks and canapés to our farewell lunchtime together the whole conference and the venue was a tremendous success!
Thank you to our guests, presenters, our attendees and to Linda and Lisa who arranged it and contributed energetically to our time in Bangkok!
Bruce is the leader of CoMO’s Asia Pacific region and the Chairman of The Meningitis Centre in Perth, Australia. Bruce’s passion for meningitis awareness comes from caring for his daughter Ashleigh, who contracted pneumococcal meningitis in 1989 at just six months of age. Read Bruce and Jenni’s story.