There was much hope when this congress was finally held in an Asian country, particularly in South East Asia. The title was enticing to those who have been practicing rheumatology in this part of the world. The challenges are so different compared to those countries who previously hosted this event.
There was much anticipation that finally issues so pertinent to this part of the world will finally be brought to the fore and debated. I have to say that the event was a total letdown. Don’t get me wrong, the speakers were great but the way the congress was arranged mirrored events that may not be pertinent or relevant to this South East Asia.
There was hardly any focus on Lupus. There was hardly any focus on tuberculosis and the risks it poses in a TB endemic zone. There was hardly any focus on the health economics of biologic therapy, a treatment modality that remains out of reach of the majority of patients in South East Asia.
In short, there was hardly any focus on issues that matter to South East Asia, so ironic when the organizers decided to have it in sunny Bangkok.
A large Chinese delegation which showed up on the first day never returned, perhaps seeing little benefits.
Controversies were not addressed, debates were absent and likely a consensus that this event will not be a priority in the near future.