ASEAN +3 FETN 2012: Year End's Note from the Chair,
I was asked by our ASEAN+3 FETN coordinator, Ms. Ann, to write a year end's note. I went back and read what was written last year and found it was full of promises. A question then arises, "Did our FETN grow up or wither away?" To be honest, we made good progress in many areas but there are some that we did not meet the expectations.
Let's start with the good side. We were able to convene two technical workshops to address important health threats in the region. Hosted by Thailand, representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam exchanged their experience in surveillance and response to severe flooding as well as propose policy recommendations. The second workshop was hosted by Vietnam in response to the current threat of severe Hand Foot Mouth Disease in the region. Eleven countries joined this important workshop. We also had our second Steering Committee Meeting in Phuket, which was attended by 12 countries and a side meeting of the 11th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting. A booklet of FETN highlighted the good work of FETPs in each ASEAN+3 Country was developed and distributed. We were successful in organizing five timely VDO conferences to share and learn of outbreaks in Member States.
We learned more details about the mysterious deaths of young children in Cambodia, which turn out to be caused by Enterovirus 71. The other outbreak was the mysterious inflammatory palmoplantar hyperkeratosis in Vietnam. Indonesia shared with us the resurgence of diphtheria (Thailand is now facing the same problem). Thai FETP and Cambodia AET had a joint surveillance system evaluation activity for pneumonia and severe respiratory infection at border sites.
Where did we fall short? Although FETN tries to keep network members connected and lively by producing monthly newsletters and other informal communications, we need more two-way communication. Only some of the Field Epidemiology Training Program or units of member countries are directly engaging with each other. We hope there will be more joint activities in training, studies, and projects, as well as sharing of resources. Last but not least, we need to convince international organizations and aid agencies from both government and private sectors to see the value in our network and collaborate with some activities.
We sowed many good seeds in 2012 which need to take care, and there are more new trees to plant in 2013. "Rome wasn't built in one day." This is very true for our ASEAN+3 FETN. Let's all of us join hands to make 2013 a more lively and productive year than 2012. We are going to have Myanmar as a new chair starting from January 2013. I am confident that with new leadership and continue active participation from each of us, we will have a brighter future.
Thank you our coordinator and every one for all the good work we jointly accomplished.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013
Dr. Kumnuan Ungchusak
Chair, ASEAN+3 FETN