I was recently present as the official photographer for AbbVie‘s major event of the year: Asian Multidisciplinary Interactive Symposium in Immunology (MISI) 2014 at Le Meridien Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. This healthcare professional symposium calls for the convergence of 3 medical disciplines in the area of Immunology; namely Rheumatology, Gastroenterology and Dermatology.
This 2-days educational symposium (25 – 26 January 2014) for healthcare professionals from both the private and government healthcare sectors is jointly organised by AbbVie, Malaysian Society of Rheumatology, Malaysian Society of Gastroenterology & Hepatology and Dermatological Society of Malaysia. The conference featured leading specialists in their respective field of interests, with doctors, professors, pharmacists and researchers conducting talks on updates and challenges of the management and treatment of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID) affecting the joints, gut and skin.
Registration began at 8.30 am before the Plenary session kicked off where everyone came together for opening remarks and talks that set the tone for the rest of the day.
Subsequently, the program broke off into 3 separate breakout sessions by their respective medical disciplines; Rheumatology, Gastroenterology & Dermatology, to cater to the various interest groups. Highly interactive workshops were also conducted where dialogues were exchanged between panel of speakers and participants from the floor.
MISI 2014 was also an event that served to exhibit finished artworks by participating artists from a recently concluded “Perspectives – Art, Inflammation & Me” Art Project, of which I too was a participant attempting to offer my artistic perspectives of arthritic patients. Apparently, there were only 3 full time participating artists in this project, while the rest were all design students from INTI College’s division of INTI Center of Art & Design (ICAD).
I have to say I was immensely impressed by the works of art by these young students from INTI International College Subang. Not only were they aesthetically balanced and pleasing, they offered a very unique and deep interpretation of the disease and patient experiences that brings with them, a very strong concept. The works hold themselves pretty solidly.
I was especially drawn to these two of my favourite pieces; “The Beauty” and “Fortitude”.
There was also a booth where real patients demonstrated to curious visitors how it feels like to have arthritic fingers. Thick rubber bands were tightly tied onto visitors’ hands to simulate the restrictive movement arthritis causes as a result of stiffened joints.
As the event for the first day drew to a close, a short video interview session was held to interview all participating artists for this “Perspectives – Art, Inflammation & Me” Art Project. The footage filmed will be collated into a short behind-the-scenes account of these artists’ endeavour in coming out with the pieces.
MISI 2014 was truly a well balanced event in that not only speakers and participants were from all over Malaysia; a select few key speakers were also flown in from Japan, France, Canada & Australia, offering an up to date 360 view on current treatment practices and challenges. The event’s format was carefully crafted to enable medical practitioners from the 3 IMID-related disciplines mingle and cross-pollinate ideas and views in a more cohesive and dynamic environment.
This synergistic approach not only benefited medical practitioners by lending them a platform for voices to be made and heard, the event also took on an unexpected twist by hosting a special “Insights Into the Life of Patients” session by guests speakers on the second day; Ms Ding Mee Hong (a rheumatoid arthritis patient), Mr Eugene Clifford Cross (a psoriasis patient) and Mr Leong Jia Ming (a Crohn’s disease patient).
These patients came on stage to share with the audience on what it means to be living with their respective diseases. The potentially poignant and tear-inducing session highlighted their trials and challenges in dealing with the inner demon, while putting up with the public in trying to manage and making their condition understood. The key takeaway from this session was the importance of social support from understanding family and friends.
The second day of MISI 2014 concluded with a Live Talk Show touching on the impact and burden of IMID from Bio-Psycho-Social Aspects, hosted by Simon D’Cruz.
The Deputy DG from Ministry of Health (MOH), Datuk Dr Jeyaindran was also present to deliver his closing remarks before being escorted for a gallery walk of the exhibited artworks.