The three-day event was officiated by the Minister of Health, YB Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam on 23 November, and graced with the presence of YTM Raja Dato’ Seri Eleena binti Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al Maghfur-lah, who is also the patron of the Perinatal Society of Malaysia. Honoured guests at the event included Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Yazid bin Jalaludin, Head of Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya; Professor Madya Dr Azura Mansor, Deputy Director of University of Malaya Medical Centre; Professor Dato' Dr Hamizah binti Ismail, President of the Perinatal Society of Malaysia; Professor Dr Thong Meow Keong, Chairman of the College of Paediatrics, Academy of Medicine Malaysia; Dr Irene Cheah Guat Sim, Head of Neonatal Services, Ministry of Health; and Dr Noor Aziah binti Zainal Abidin, from the Medical Development Ministry of Health, representing the Director General.
Echoing the theme for this year’s conference, “Neonatology Thinking Hats: Ethics, Evidence & Controversies”, Dr Azanna Ahmad Kamar, Organising and Scientific Chairperson for KLINC 2017, expressed in her welcoming speech that the conference is indeed “unique because, not only is it held in conjunction with World Prematurity Day – it tries to bring together the ethics amidst hardcore neonatology; hence, the theme of the conference.”
In his opening address, Dr Subramaniam revealed that the concern on prematurity is rightly so “as it is associated with fatal complications and is still one of the leading causes of death in new-borns, and those under the age of five.”
The incidence of new borns who are born prematurely in Malaysia is about 10% (according to the Malaysian National Neonatology Registry) and it shows nearly 30,000 babies born in Malaysia are premature in the 36 Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals and two university hospitals in Malaysia. Out of the 30,000, approximately 3,500 of them were born less than 22 weeks with an increased risk of complications and the survival rate among infants who were born less than 750g was only 24%. While Malaysia is doing well in infants born at 28 weeks and more, there is still a lot of improvement to be done for infants born in less than 28 weeks, where the survival rate is between 20 – 50%.
The minister later emphasised that the government recognised the constraints faced, and numerous efforts have been undertaken to improve the quality of the healthcare system – e.g. upgrading the facilities and infrastructure, establishing new maternity and child hospitals, as well as introduction of the neonatal retrieval ambulance services to enable safe transport of new born babies to NICUs. He further iterated that access to subspecialty treatment must not be overlooked, and although the ministry receives the second largest funding from the government – it is still not enough.
“Neonatology Thinking Hats: Ethics, Evidence & Controversies”
Distinguished speakers from various countries participated and took centre stage – giving talks as they shared further insights into several key topics, echoing this year’s theme.
Lined up back-to-back across three days, the topics delved into the ethical issues surrounding controversies in neonatal medicine, advances of neonatal management and research evidence related to the field of neonatology.
Some stimulating questions that were discussed were not just black and white situations. For one, who is responsible for the baby’s life? Is it the medically trained doctors and hospital staff? Or do we look at the state’s or country’s law in deciding the right treatment for the baby? Ultimately, there is no right or wrong and there needs to be a middle ground in handling these delicate situations.
A prize giving ceremony was held on the last day of the conference – announcing the winners of the poster competition. The participants submitted their poster abstracts prior to the conference and 43 posters were judged according to certain criteria throughout the three days. MIMS
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