Dear friends and colleagues,
The year 2003 was recorded as the year when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) spread across Asia, especially in Southern China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as the rest of the world. SARS caused thousands of cases and claimed almost a thousand lives. It was not a year to remember but we survived SARS. The SARS epidemic stopped before the end of that year and it was the last time this kind of epidemic occurred in Asia.
The last month of 2003, after SARS ended, was an occasion to remember for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand. It was the second time that the Royal College hosted the annual congress of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO). The first time was in 1981.
The APAO Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2003 was still in the era when APAO Congresses were held once every two years. It was the most successful APAO Congress ever then with more than 1,200 delegates, more than 300 submitted abstracts, and more than 40 exhibitors. It was, however, surpassed very quickly by the following congresses. Fifteen years later, the latest APAO Congress in Hong Kong had more than 5,000 delegates, more than 1,500 submitted abstracts, and more than 250 exhibitors. APAO Congresses have, without a doubt, become a yearly global event in ophthalmology with huge success.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand is proud to be part of the growing APAO. We are honored to be given this great opportunity to host the APAO Congress one more time after more than 15 years. We welcome ophthalmologists and related personnel from all over the world to the “Sciences and Arts of Ophthalmology.” While the growing success of APAO is undoubtedly due to the strength of the scientific program, friendship, the social part or art of academic meetings, is also slowly built up through APAO Congresses. I believe if the APAO council members, speakers, and delegates who attend APAO Congresses regularly through the years count the number of new friends they know from the congresses, they will find the number is enormous, or even countless.
The current President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand, Dr. Anuchit Poonyathalang, said in the welcome video for APAO 2019: “When our Thai hospitality meets academic spirit, APAO 2019 will bring the best of sciences and arts that ophthalmology offers.” He is certainly correct.
Let’s bring science, art, and also friendship to APAO 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
I hope to see you all.
With warmest personal regards,
Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, MD
APAO 2019 Congress President
President, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand, 2013-2016