Submitted by Myung-Chul Lee, M.D.
Former & Honorary Chairman, ARCCNM
- Structure and Establishment of the Council
- Action of the Council
- Achievements and Future Goals of the Council
- Commitment of the Council
Since the introduction of nuclear medicine in Asia some 30-40 years ago, it has been consistently promoted in the region as a field that promises to expand medical technology and knowledge for the betterment of patient care.
It remains, however, that the successful promotion of nuclear medicine development is dependent on the abilities of each individual nation. The unfortunate reality is that the current status of nuclear medicine in Asia falls far below the necessary standard, as most countries in the region have not yet even founded national nuclear medicine societies. In fact, the total number of institutes in the Philippines and Indonesia has remained nearly as they were 10 years ago, indicating an alarming decrease in nuclear medicine activity. The majority of Asian nations, with the exception of Japan and Korea, significantly lack the appropriate facilities and the substantial manpower required for proper development of nuclear medicine practice. Indexes based on the numbers of institutions, equipment and members per million population accordingly reveal figures close to zero. Furthermore, only four countries in Asia were listed as major contributors for the Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in terms of the number of presented papers: Japan (168), Korea (85), China (26) and Taiwan (22). There have been no contributions from the remaining Asian nations thus far.
While it seems as though the heterogeneity of nuclear medicine activity in Asia is a direct result of the poor economical status of the region, figures prove otherwise. A study based on the Gross National Products per Capita (GNP) compared the numbers of institutions, equipment and practice and members per million population of various Asian nations. Data from developing countries in Eastern Europe were utilized as an objective reference. Results revealed that although Japan and Korea are categorized under the same economic status bracket, Korea has a considerably lower level of nuclear medicine activity relative to such parameters.
It is important to note the disparity of nuclear medicine activity between countries in Asia and countries in Eastern Europe of similar economic standing. All Asian nations, regardless of their gross income level, have far fewer facilities and much less manpower than their counterparts in Eastern Europe. Less developed countries in Asia, such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, regrettably has poor nuclear medicine activity.
Heterogeneity of this nature poses grave threats to the future of nuclear medicine practice and scientific research on an international level. Efforts to increase awareness on the unsatisfactory condition of nuclear medicine activity in Asia are pivotal to the successful promotion and development of nuclear medicine in other regions of the world.
The ARCCNM was organized to foster and promote nuclear medicine in Asia, specifically in the developing and less developed countries of the region. The main objectives of the Council are to establish liaisons with the official national bodies of nuclear medicine and to enhance regional scientific activities by way of conferences, seminars and educational programs during the annual scientific meeting, whereby facilitating communication between experts, trainees and fellows in the field.
Structure and Establishment of the Council
Plans for the establishment of the Asian Regional Cooperative Council for Nuclear Medicine (ARCCNM) were initiated in Turkey during the annual meeting of the AOFMNB in the year 2000 and the council was officially founded at the 1st Executive Board Meeting in Hong Kong, China in February 2001.
The 1st Executive Board Meeting sought to institute an Executive Board to be the governing body of the ARCCNM, and the following authorities were accordingly elected: Dr. Myung-Chul Lee (Korea) as the first Chairman of the ARCCNM; Dr. June-Key Chung (Korea) as Secretary General/Treasurer; Dr. M. A Karim (Bangladesh), Dr. Jahan S. Masjhur (Indonesia) and Dr. Yutaka Suzuki (Japan) as co-Vice Chairmen of each of the regional chapters, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Far East Asia. Dr. Xiu-Jie Liu, Dr. Felix X. Sundram and Dr. Cheuk Man Tong, were later instituted as Board members as well.
The Executive Board is responsible for managing the political matters of the ARCCNM and is held accountable for the supervision of the Member Assemblies and National Delegates. Dr. Shuji Tanada (Japan), Dr. Jerry Obaldo (Philippines), Dr. Mizanul Hasan (Bangladesh), Dr. Vikram R. Lele (India), Dr. Soebowo Soemewo (Indonesia), Dr. Anchali Krisanachinda (Thailand) and Dr. Sang-Moo Lim (Korea) volunteered to assist in the building of the ARCCNM foundation and basic framework. The ARCCNM political structure also includes Working-Group Members and Task-Force Groups. Two to three active members from the three regional chapters, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Far East Asia, were nominated as Working-Group members for practical action of the Council, and Six Task-Force Groups in the specific fields of Nuclear Neurology, Nuclear Cardiology, Nuclear Oncology, Radionuclide Therapy, General Nuclear Medicine and the Basic Sciences were approved by the Executive Board. Coordinators for each group were appointed at the 1st Executive Board Meeting.
To efficiently direct ARCCNM political issues, the ARCCNM was divided into three chapters according to the various regions of Asia: Southeast Asia, South Asia and Far East Asia. The countries constituting each of the chapters are as follows: (1) Southeast Asia Chapter member states include Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam while the Southeast Asia Chapter non-member states include Brunei, Cambodia and Laos; (2) South Asia Chapter member states include Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka while the South Asia non-member states include Maldives, Bhutan; and (3) the Far East Asia Chapter member states include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan while the Far East Asia Chapter non-member states include Macao, North Korea.
In the primary stages of the ARCCNM, the number of member states amounted to fifteen, but later increased to eighteen as Malaysia and Mongolia at the were approved for official ARCCNM membership at the 3rd Executive Board Meeting, and Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka were approved for official membership at the 4th Executive Board Meeting
Action of the Council
To achieve the extensive goals of the ARCCNM, Executive Board Meetings and Working Group Meetings are held at the request of Chairman or the Executive Board in developing or undeveloped countries in association with their scientific occasions as to attract the greatest attendance of ordinary members.
Consequently, the first Annual General Meeting of ARCCNM was held in Dalian, China from June 1st to June 3rd, 2002 in conjunction with the 1st China×Japan×Korea Conference. Less the 200 participants from the CJK Conference, approximately sixty participants from fifteen member states attended this significant ARCCNM scientific occasion. Thirty-six oral and poster papers were presented and for educational purposes, six special lectures and four symposia were conducted as well.
The first Executive Board Meeting was held in Hong Kong, China, the second in Toronto, Canada, the third in Dalian, China, and the most recent, the 4th Executive Board Meeting, was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh during the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the ARCCNM. For the continued organization of productive activities, Working Group meetings were held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2001 and in Manila, Philippines in June 2002. These meetings sought to disseminate education through numerous international symposia and scientific activities not only for the benefit of the participants, but for the promotion of nuclear medicine in the host country as well.
The 1st Annual General Meeting was noteworthy in harnessing support from the member states and therefore, it was agreed that a subsequent Annual Meeting of the ARCCNM should be held. At the 3rd Executive Board Meeting held in Dalian, China during the 1st Annual General Meeting, the Executive Board resolved to hold the 2nd Annual General Meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh from February 6th to February 8th, 2003.
The 2nd Annual General Meeting of ARCCNM was also held successfully with the cooperation of the Bangladesh Society of Nuclear Medicine. Over 300 participants, including nearly 100 nuclear physicians from abroad and from within the host country of Bangladesh, had the opportunity to exchange innovative scientific and technological information regarding nuclear medicine. Numerous lectures by invited speakers from the IAEA, the United States and France were featured, and 30 oral and 27 poster papers were presented by the ARCCNM. In terms of educational programs, two symposia, two plenary sessions and two luncheon seminars were offered for all participants. Depending on the evaluation of submitted papers, the ARCCNM provided complete or partial financial support to most participants with the aid of contributions by several major sponsors, Philips, Siemens, CIS-Schering, Amersham, CTI and IBA, devoted to promoting and improving the nuclear medicine technology in Asia.
Achievements and Future Goals of the Council The ARCCNM has experienced incredible growth in terms of member states and functionality as a regional organization during the course of my term due to continued dedication and support of the ARCCNM members. As a result, the 1st Delegate Assembly was created and formally established at the 2nd Annual General Meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Furthermore, as it became gradually evident that more practical action was required of the ARCCNM, foundations for constructing an Asian School of Nuclear Medicine (ASNM) were initiated. Discussion concerning the necessity for an ASNM was raised during the 1st Working Group Meeting of ARCCNM in Bangkok, Thailand in 2001 and continued at the 3rd Executive Board Meeting in Dalian, China. Therefore, it is essential to recognize and support projects like the Asian School of Nuclear Medicine (ASNM). In general, most countries in Asia lack official education programs, particularly in the field of nuclear medicine, which are fundamental for the advancement of nuclear medicine practice. Often times, nuclear medicine physicians in Asia do not even have the opportunity or the resources to receive higher levels of education from developed nations. The main objective of the ASNM, as such, is to contribute in the enhancement of academic activities in the Asian region to notably increase the number of young physicians specialized in nuclear medicine. The ASNM curriculum will be composed of comprehensive 1-2 week courses and additionally, 2-4 days of seminars in various topics will be offered. Efforts to establish a successful ASNM will be made possible by forming liaisons with the official national bodies of nuclear medicine and international organizations (IAEA). An ASNM is pivotal for the proper promotion and development of nuclear medicine practice in Asia, as it would function as a subsidiary educational-training curriculum for professionals and experts in the field.
In particular, the ASNM aims to advocate innovative scientific and technical knowledge, such as PET/cyclotron technology, to developing and less developed Asian nations. PET technology has already become an important diagnostic tool for staging disease, evaluating the treatment effects and the long-term follow-up of cancer patients in developed nations. Clinical PET significantly reduced national medical costs by detecting cancer in its early stages, preventing unnecessary surgery, modifying the optimal treatment protocol and allowing for effective advancements like PET/cyclotron technology, the countries of Asia will be able to confidence in the benefits of such diagnostic modalities and of nuclear medicine as a whole will increase, whereby remedying the chronic issue of stagnant nuclear medicine development in the region.
The IAEA too welcomed plans for establishment of an ASNM, citing its essentiality, and pledges its support. The ARCCNM has begun the process of structuring the ASNM and has selected Dr. Felix Sundram as Dean. Selection of 6 to 7 Vice Deans, each from a participating country, will follow shortly. Cooperation by the member states in regards to the ASNM has been greatly appreciated, and we ask for sustained support, as assembling a proper framework is crucial in the initial stages of the ASNM. Success of the ASNM will allow for the manifestation of the Council’s objectives of advocating the benefits of nuclear medicine to the rest of the world. Consequently, the ARCCNM along with the ASNM may act as prototypes for the establishment of similar regional organizations and schools in the Middle East, Northern and Sub-Sahara Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Recently, at the 4th Executive Board Meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. June-Key Chung (Korea) was elected as the new Chairman of the ARCCNM. Delegates and member state proxies unanimously approved his election at the 1st Delegate Assembly. The former chairman, Dr. Myung-Chul Lee, was established as the Honorary Chairman of the ARCCNM. Other former Executive Board members were established as members of an Advisory Group so that they may continue to support ARCCNM activities.
Revision of the Constitution was a key issue at both of the above-mentioned meetings. Although the Constitution had been effective for the first two years of ARCCNM, the Executive Board found it was seemingly necessary to reorganize the structure of the Council to the increase its overall effectiveness. As a result, an Organizing Committee of the ARCCNM was newly established and leadership for this committee was appointed. Nomination of Dr. Sang-Moo Lim (Korea) by Dr. Chung for the positions of Secretary General and Treasurer were approved. Dr. Sang-Moo Lim also volunteered to participate as a Working Group member for two years. Furthermore, at the request of the Chairman, young, active members were nominated as representatives of the 10 main member states in the Organizing Committee. The members of Organizing Committee are as follows: Dr. Shuji Tanada (Japan), Dr. Zuoxiang He (China), Dr. Mai Trong Khoa (Vietnam), Dr. Jose Eduardo Rondain (Phillipines), Dr. Nan-Jing Peng (Taiwan), Dr. Tawatchai Chaiwatanarat (Thailand), Dr. Faridul Alam (Bangladesh), Vikram R. Lele (India), Dr. Hussein S. Kartamihardja (Indonesia) and one member from Pakistan.
Commitment of the Council Asia is a region aspiring to flourish in nuclear medicine practice and scientific activity and holds a great future for growth in the field. Yet, due to the overwhelming differences of each individual nation in Asia in regards to economy, geography and culture, it remains a struggle to coordinate a unified network in promoting nuclear medicine development. Success in Asia most certainly means success in other developing and less developed regions of the world. Therefore, unrelenting commitment and endeavors by the ARCCNM are necessary to reduce heterogeneity in Asia and to increase harmony and exchange for the overall progress of nuclear medicine internationally.