The Academy of Filipno Neurosurgeons (AFN, formerly the Philippine Society of Neurological Surgery) hosted the Asean Congress in 2000 (Dr. Ferdinand Florendo, president), with only 41 members. Thirteen years and 80 more neurosurgeons later, it is once again tasked with organizing this event. Held in Phuket, Thailand, in 2011, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi was elected president of the Asean Neurosurgery Society (NS).
Buoyed by renewed interest in cooperative endeavors in economy and medicine in this part of the world, this year’s theme is “One Asean Neurosurgery.” It is envisioned that, given the unique culture, available resources and racial differences of member-countries, this meeting will provide the impetus to open more doors for exchange of knowledge and expertise.
A concerted effort to standardize the training of residents in this region should make a “One Asean Practice” in neurosurgery more achievable.
The meeting will be held on March 7-9 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City. Invited speakers from the Asean countries as well as from the United States (professors Jacques Morcos, Patricio Reyes and Phillip Aldana), Canada (Prof. Andres Lozano), Germany (Prof. Stephen Schwab), India (Prof. Prem Ramani) and Taiwan (Prof. Yong Kawang Tu-WFNS president-elect) will deliver lectures covering the basics and advanced state of neurosurgery.
To be presented during the plenary session are various research works and talks on the current state of neurosurgery from the member-countries. Dr. Asis Encarnacion is the overall organizing committee chair.
The proceedings have been made possible by the generous support of the Philippine Gamma Knife Center, Aesculap-B. Braun, Medtronics, Brainlab, Stryker, Carl Zeiss, Unilab-Therapharma, Pfizer and B n M Events.
To complete the experience of a visit to the country, social events have also been organized. Highlighted will be the private island of Maribago Bluewaters, where the audience will be thrilled by the maneuvers of the internationally renowned San Diego Dance Troupe, all-night dancing and singing, and fireworks.
The need to organize a society in this region was first discussed by Doctors Iskarno, Selva and Beny from Indonesia, Doctors Suwanwela and Hongsaprabas from Thailand and Dr. Renato Sibayan from the Philippines. It was formally organized in 1983 and the first meeting was in July 22-25, 1984, in Bandung, Indonesia. On a rotational basis, subsequent meetings were held in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila (Dr. Faustino T. Domingo, president), Singapore, then back to Indonesia in Jakarta. Vietnam hosted the congress for the first time in 2006. Recently Cambodia and Myanmar have started to become active in the activities of the Asean NS and will soon be considered to host future meetings.
The AFN will later on turn over the organization of the 16th Asean Congress of Neurological Surgery to the next president of the Asean Neurosurgery Society, Dr. Seow Wan Tew from Singapore.
The AFN celebrates its 52nd anniversary this year. To date it has 121 members, certified by the Philippine Board of Neurological Surgery, after having undergone 5-6 years of grueling residency.
There are now 8 training programs in the country. These are Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (V. Luna Hospital), Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center-St. Luke’s Medical Center Consortium, Makati Medical Center, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, Vicente Sotto Medical Center (Cebu) and the most recently formed Southern Philippines Integrated Neurosurgical Training Program (Davao Regional Hospital).
After residency, some graduates opt to take subspecialty training outside the country for one to two more years. So we now have members who are acknowledged experts in cerebrovascular/endovascular, pediatric, spine, peripheral nerve, minimally invasive and tumor surgery. True to its mission of making quality neurosurgical care available to as many Filipinos possible, the AFN in coordination with these programs, has fanned out specialists to as far north as Baguio/Cordilleras and as deep south as General Santos City.
Due to the increasing number of members and expanse of coverage, it was necessary to organize regional sections to ensure that all members are personally attended to by the society. The heads of regional sections are Dr. Ferdinand Florendo (Pangasinan) Northern Luzon; Dr. Wyben Briones (Cebu City), Visayas; and Dr. James Soriano (Davao City), Mindanao. NCR is covered by Doctors Gerardo D. Legaspi, president; Ibet Marie Sih, vice president and Rhoby Orata, secretary-treasurer.
Regular scientific meetings are held with national and international speakers, culminating in the annual AFN meeting in December. This coincides with the annual convention of the Philippine College of Surgeons.