Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995









Visit to AMDA Nepal and AMDA India (4): The 34th CMAAO General Assembly India (2)

Publication date:2020-03-26
By Dr. Shigeru Suganami
President, AMDA International

After the 34th CMAAO General Assembly India ended on 7th September 2019, I received an offer from SAARC Medical Association Chairman Dr. Ravindra Wankhedkar to sign a partnership agreement within the scope of cooperation towards disaster relief. Dr. Wankhedkar has also been serving as a member of CMAAO financial board, with a notable career of heading Indian Medical Association (IMA) in the past. The signing took place in New Delhi in November that year following the event. Already forging ties with medical associations of three countries (Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan), partnering with IMA (that boasts the biggest number of members) will surely be beneficial for AMDA in uplifting its disaster response capabilities in Southwest Asia. 

My reunion with former IMA Secretary General Dr. D. R. Rai was an immense joy.  After traveling all the way from New Delhi, he said one of his purposes of attending the conference was to come and see me. Dr. Rai and Dr. Wankhedkar had been in office during the same period. He is a fellow septuagenarian who is a man after my own heart. It is this wondrous sense of like-mindedness we, in our seventies, share which prompted me to ask him for a dance at the conference banquet. Although he politely declined my request due to his lower backache, I still recall clearly the legendary dance and singing which he showed in Okayama, Japan. His performance has been talked about among my staff at AMDA Headquarters to this day. Someday I hope to give my acupuncture treatment to Dr. Rai so as to ease his back pain. With his wisdom, I am very much certain he could help us with our activities in India through a vast network and experiences he has amassed over the years.

With CMAAO Treasurer Dr. Yee Shing Chang of Hong Kong Medical Association, there was a common topic we shared. It was about two figures who were foes against each other in the Second World War, namely, Japanese interpreter Mr. Takashi Nagase and British prisoner of war Mr. Eric Lomax. Their stories were made into a documentary which made Dr. Chang respect Mr. Nagase deeply ever since he watched it. I told him that Mr. Nagase was, in fact, the man who helped us students at Okayama Medical School heading for an expedition in Khwae Yai River in Burma in our youth, and that this very travel was the starting point of my organization. He was pleased to hear the story, although he did not touch on anything about the sufferings of the Chinese that were brought about by the Imperial Japanese Army. Still, I could sense there must have been a lot of things he wanted to say for someone who was born in Hong Kong.

Sometimes I cannot help but begin to wonder how mysterious a fate could be. When I was chatting with Malaysian Medical Association’s Dr. Kar Chai Koh (also the CMAAO Vice-chair of Council), I was surprised to discover the fact that he graduated Manipal University in Karnataka, India. The school was a workplace of AMDA India Chairperson Dr. Sethukumar Kamath, and is ranked top five in the nation for its outstanding academic achievements. With a broad network of alumni across the globe, AMDA has a partnership with this renowned university with a focus on disaster relief. It is fair to say that the school will greatly contribute to the academia segment of the World Platform for Disaster Medicine. Fortunately, he is a vice-president of the school’s Malaysian alumni body and this led us to seek a partnership deal on disaster relief. His candid character was visible in his attitude: he told me that his grandmother would never have approved of him meeting the Japanese (probably for the war-time experience she went through).

Dr. Yeh Woei Chong of Singapore Medical Association is another example of a chance meeting I truly appreciate. He is currently serving as CMAAO Chair of Council, and has phenomenal skills in hosting a conference. He was a year younger than otologist Dr. Euan Murugasu at National University of Singapore Medical School. Dr. Murugasu stayed at my house for a month in his freshman year and his father was the first generation of students at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine whose classmates included former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. His father was respected as one of the seven members of a medical health committee formed by Lee Kwan Yew in the early days of the nation.

Nepal Medical Association President Dr. Mukti Ram Shrestha and Dr. Tashi Tenzin from Thimphu, Bhutan made an interesting yet discreet pair. In 1993, there was an influx of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees fleeing Bhutan to seek asylum in Damak, Nepal for the democratic movement they instigated. Ever since, AMDA has continued to provide medical support with UNHCR to those who are still remaining in Nepal. Nevertheless, the atmosphere between the two was just as friendly and mature as it could be since neither of them mentioned any of the past.

Japan sits in the middle of two major cultures: the Indian and the Chinese. It arouses my curiosity as to what kind of development CMAAO will show in the years to come, having medicine as a common ground. The wealth of the world is moving towards Asia which helps local medical associations gain more authority in voicing their opinions. Since Japan Medical Association (JMA) bears responsibility for the nation’s public health policies, its potential strength deserves credit. This power, I believe, will grow stronger as time goes by.

I would like to thank JMA for giving me the three-day opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas with unique doctors from all corners of the Asian region.
    •  President's Message
    •  India
    •  2019