Celebrating a significant milestone, the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM) has recently concluded its 25th annual congress. Held at Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur – from 27 to 30 July – the congress welcomed 856 delegates, both local and international. The congress also witnessed a series of hands-on workshops, back-to-back enriching lectures, insightful public health forums and conducive private subspecialty meets—all lined-up to empower our ob-gyn specialists. 

(L-R) Professor Chittaranjan N. Purandare, President of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Dr J. Ravichandran, President of OGSM and Dr Thaneemalai Jeganathan, Organising Chairman of the congress officiate the opening ceremony in the evening.
(L-R) Professor Chittaranjan N. Purandare, President of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Dr J. Ravichandran, President of OGSM and Dr Thaneemalai Jeganathan, Organising Chairman of the congress officiate the opening ceremony in the evening.


Reiterating this year’s theme, Organising Chairman, Dr Thaneemalai Jeganathan, who is also the president-elect for OGSM, relayed the importance to “reflect on our rich history and humble beginnings—as we endeavour to shape a brighter future for our industry.” With an aim to present a high impact meeting that encapsulates the essence of the industry’s rich history—while keeping abreast with recent developments—the organising committee has certainly put in tremendous effort to put together a congress that echoes a global theme.

The 25th OGSM Congress rolled out on 27 July, with a series of pre-congress workshops—featuring back-to-back symposia and mock situations to create hands-on experiences—mainly on obstetric emergencies and cardiovascular diseases during pregnancy. The congress kicked into high gear on the second day, witnessing the launch of the OGSM Congress app for the first time—through an interactive walk-through presentation by Dr Goh HY. The official opening ceremony took centre stage later in the evening, graced by special guests Professor Chittaranjan N. Purandare, President of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.

Supporting and empowering professional healthcare community in delivering better patient care

Dr J. Ravichandran presenting his lecture on “The Second Victim”, about the psychosocial effects of peers who have gone through disciplinary action.

Dr J. Ravichandran presenting his lecture on “The Second Victim”, about the psychosocial effects of peers who have gone through disciplinary action.
 

Presenting his lecture on “The Second Victim”, President of OGSM, Dr J. Ravichandran expressed that "many a time, we often feel personally responsible when something goes wrong… that we have failed our duty. We even second-guess our clinical skills, and start questioning our knowledge and self-confidence. More often than not, our self-confidence is gravely compromised."

According to Dr Ravichandran, 10% – 40% of the time, healthcare professionals are often traumatised psychosocially, and continue to be affected long after the events have occurred. He then urged healthcare professionals to provide peer support in such times—never to abandon one another—reiterating that "we are also human; doctors are not God."

Another guest speaker, Professor Chittaranjan N. Purandare later delivered the annual I.S. Puvan Memorial Lecture. Titled "Non-communicable Diseases: It all Starts in Utero!", the lecture discussed the impact of non-communicable diseases, on a global platform. Professor Chittaranjan also shared insights into the topic from a wider perspective—further urging early intervention to be taken for every pregnant woman—to reduce traditional maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality indicators.

Past, current and future challenges ahead

Dr Thaneemalai gave a themed lecture detailing the past, current and future challenges for the ob-gyn community.

Dr Thaneemalai gave a themed lecture detailing the past, current and future challenges for the ob-gyn community.
 

Echoing the message of this year’s theme, Dr Thaneemalai also expressed the various obstacles the community had to overcome to reach where it is today. He remarked that "we have less trainees or medical students joining the O&G community due to litigation; yet, we are over-producing doctors", when addressing the various obstacles and future challenges the specialty faces. Coupled with the rise in litigations and a substantial number of obstetricians quitting the filed—he urged the ob-gyn community to be wary of these challenges.

This year, the OGSM Congress also hosted its inaugural “OGSM Challenge”, which showcased the enthusiasm, vigour and the knowledge of potential ob-gyn specialists, through a series of ob-gyn-related trivia questions.

The challenge comprised of participants from local universities—e.g. University of Malaya (UM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM), Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM), as well as the Ministry of Health (MOH). UM was crowned the overall champion, with the participants walking home with free participation in the next OGSM congress.

The inaugural OGSM challenge was ultimately won by Universiti Malaya.
The inaugural OGSM challenge was ultimately won by Universiti Malaya.

Marina Mahathir: The dire need to recognise women's health in SEA

The event was graced by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir who delivered a special lecture on “Women’s Reproductive Health Issues in SEA”.

The event was graced by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir who delivered a special lecture on “Women’s Reproductive Health Issues in SEA”.
 

One of the special guests at the congress, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, delivered a special lecture on "Women's Reproductive Health Issues in SEA". She shared some of her experiences while advocating for women's rights, and the right for HIV-infected people to be treated.

Maternal mortality is as significant indicator of the progress made by countries towards the development and recognition of women's health and rights, and the attention paid towards mitigating preventable maternal death," she emphasised. She also praised the audience and the MOH for lowering the rate of maternal mortality in Malaysia. Nonetheless, “there is still much to be done—such as addressing the problem of how sometimes women need the permission from men to gain access to certain medical treatments, including life-saving ones.” 

Turning towards a factor of the problem, she pointed out that although there are good prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programmes in Malaysia, there is not much done about "preventing the mothers from being infected in the first place".

"This entails far more than clinical advice to individual women. It involves comprehensive changes in the mindset about women – about empowering women to make their own choices about their bodies and health, as well as promoting immense responsibility of protecting themselves and their families," she elaborated.

Practice evidence-based medicine instead of defensive medicine

Professor Purandare delivered this year’s annual I.S. Puvan Memorial Lecture.

Professor Purandare delivered this year’s annual I.S. Puvan Memorial Lecture.
 

In his opening remark, Professor Purandare urged ob-gyns to stop practising defensive medicine, as it is dissolving the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. "Scans, CTs and MRIs are fast taking over the hands of O&G specialists. When that time comes, machines and computers will decide what to do. There will be no need for doctors," he said.

"What is important, is to practise evidence-based medicine and ask if we are looking at the right evidence? Is the evidence going to take us forward in the right direction?" he asked, urging doctors to learn how to distinguish between evidences.

A range of targeted symposia and public health forums


The third and fourth day of the congress sailed smoothly with a plethora of educational symposia, targeted at different subspecialties of the O&G field. Just like we often save the best for the last—one of the most insightful symposia zoomed into the link between humanitarianism and the O&G specialty. The symposium featured three prominent speakers who covered human trafficking myths and realities, the transgender scene in Malaysia and the role of ob-gyns in the global humanitarian crisis.

Dr Sharuna Verghis highlighted that ob-gyns are in a powerful position to identify human trafficking victims as, "apart from being in the presence of their minder, doctors are always present as well". She called for the audience to help in identifying such victims as it would help the society address the issue.

Ms Nisha Ayub, a prominent advocate for transgender rights then took the floor to enlighten the audience about the laws that govern transgender individuals. She also stressed that some transgender individuals experience discrimination in a healthcare setting and urged the audience to "see us as humans too".

Speaking on the current global humanitarian crisis, Dr Nasuha shared some of her work that she previously did with MERCY Malaysia. She encouraged the audience to experience humanitarian work to help lower maternal mortality rates whenever possible and to view their roles as doctors from a different perspective.

(L-R) Professor Jamiyah Hassan who chaired the public health forum, with panellists Ms Nisha Ayub, Dr Sharuna Verghis, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and Professor Paul Forgarty
(L-R) Professor Jamiyah Hassan who chaired the public health forum, with panellists Ms Nisha Ayub, Dr Sharuna Verghis, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and Professor Paul Forgarty


The congress closed with a public health forum titled "Empowering Women & Children: The Unfinished Agenda". Panellists included Dato' Dr Amar-Singh HSS  ̶  who has been vital in the uptake of vaccinations in children in the state of Perak, Ms Nisha Ayub, Dr Sharuna Verghis and Professor Paul Forgarty, a representative of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in the UK.

The forum discussed several major social issues in Malaysia that required urgent attention. With the help of healthcare professionals, the society can be educated to change their mindset, leading to a healthier community. MIMS

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