ASEAPS Congress and Pain Camp in Myanmar Attract Nearly 500 Participants from 30 Countries

Mar 9, 2017

Nearly 500 colleagues from 30 countries converged on Yangon, Myanmar, in February for the 7th Congress of the Association of South-East Asian Pain Societies (ASEAPS 2017). The congress was cosponsored by the Myanmar Society for the Study of Pain (MSSP) and held in conjunction with the fourth IASP-ASEAPS Pain Management Camp, which attracted 28 students from a variety of clinical professions.

Myanmar Minister of Health and Sports, His Excellency Myint Htwe, formally opened the congress accompanied by officials from various health departments. The minister gave an exceptionally well informed, positive, and motivating welcoming speech that outlined the ministry’s plans and ambitions for pain relief in Myanmar. Many of the international attendees were left wishing that they could hear similar sentiments expressed by their own health ministers!

International scientists, government officials, and honored guests were welcomed at the opening ceremony of the ASEAPS Congress.

After ASEAPS President Myint Thaung conveyed a warm welcome from our Myanmar colleagues, the scientific program began with a keynote lecture by Jim Cleary (USA) on the challenges of pain management in resource-limited countries, which focused on aspects of opioid use. Following Cleary’s talk, a panel discussion on this topic compared cultures and practices across the ASEAPS region. 

The ASEAPS scientific program committee, expertly chaired by MSSP President Khin Myo Hla, established 11 plenary sessions, 3 panel discussions, and 11 concurrent workshops. In all, there were 41 plenary and workshop speakers and 67 poster presentations. The best poster award (sponsored by the scientific program committee and Australian Pain Society) went to Shwe Yee Aung (Myanmar) for “The Effect of Low-Laser Therapy in the Treatment of Neck Pain Due to Cervical Spondylosis.”

Other plenary lectures covered topics as diverse as pain epidemiology, neuropathic pain, chronic widespread pain, psychological interventions, multidisciplinary pain management, palliative care, and rehabilitation. The active inclusion and enthusiastic participation in the program of colleagues in the fields of rehabilitation medicine and orthopedic surgery was refreshing to see and reflects the strength and standing of these specialities within the multidisciplinary organization that ASEAPS represents.

Like the plenary sessions, the workshops were wide ranging and drew mainly on an international faculty from across Southeast Asia. In addition to expanding on the topics covered by plenary speakers, the workshops addressed such topics as acute pain, pediatric pain, and interventional procedures. A final panel discussion compared and contrasted the different approaches to pain education in Southeast Asia, an especially important topic with the forthcoming 2018 IASP Global Year for Excellence in Pain Education.


The congress was preceded by the latest in a series of successful IASP-ASEAPS multidisciplinary pain camps held in Yangon (participants pictured at right). The teaching of “Essential Pain Management” by Roger Goucke (Australia) was a central feature of the program, which included an enlightening visit to the pain, rehabilitation, and other clinics in the historic and leading hospital of the country, Yangon General Hospital. The pain camp’s last day comprised a one-day refresher course, which also was open to Congress registrants, as was a workshop on the use of ultrasound imaging to facilitate interventional procedures.

There was strong support for, and contributions to, both the pain camp and congress from the IASP leadership, including Judith Turner (IASP President, USA), Myint Thaung (ASEAPS President, Myanmar), Michael Nicholas (IASP Secretary, Australia), Mary Cardosa (IASP Councilor, Malaysia), as well as several past IASP councilors including Cynthia Goh (Singapore) and IASP Honorary Member Pongparadee Chaudakshetrin (Thailand).

Finally, the conference coincided with the end of Troels Jensen’s (IASP Past President, Denmark) decade of exceptional service as ASEAPS-IASP liaison. His wisdom, teaching, and guidance have been important for the development of the pain community in Southeast Asia, as exemplified not only by this conference but also by the development of new IASP chapters, pain camps, and fellowships. Many people have contributed to this success, but Troels’s enthusiasm and support have been major factors, and we all hope he will continue to contribute to ASEAPS activities.

The 8th ASEAPS Congress, together with an associated IASP Pain Management Camp, will be held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, April 11-14, 2019. Additional photos of ASEAPS 2017 are on view on the congress website.

-- Andrew SC Rice, MD, FRCP, FRCA, FFPMRC, FFPMCAI is an IASP Councilor and the ASEAPS-IASP liaison.