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ISTH e-Newsletter: Education Course in Quezon City, Philippines
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ISTH Education Courses in Review: Quezon City, Philippines

The ISTH-sponsored Educational Forum on Thrombosis and Haemostasis in the Asia-Pacific region was held in The Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, metropolitan Manila, the Philippines by the Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and the Philippine Society of Vascular Medicine from Nov. 8-9, 2013.

Only the approach of Super Typhoon Yolanda (A.K.A. Haiyan), one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land (stronger even than Hurricane Katrina), threatened to affect the conference as the Philippines lay directly in its path - landfall was predicted to coincide with the opening day of the conference. The approaching super-typhoon limited attendance at the conference as flights from across the Philippines were cancelled. Those delegates who were able to attend came from a number of clinical backgrounds including hematology, cardiology, vascular medicine, obstetrics, perinatology and infectious diseases.

The organizers of the meeting included: Maria Teresa Abola, Patricio Palmes, Enrico Tuy, Angelina Mirasol and Maribeth Delos Santos. They developed an excellent two-day program including talks and interactive sessions given by international invited speakers from the Asia-Pacific region (Yukio Ozaki from Japan, Lee Lai Heng from Singapore, Chris Ward from Australia and Claire McLintock from New Zealand) and local speakers from the Philippines.

Opening lectures included an enlightening review by Lee Lai Heng addressing thrombosis and haemostasis from an Asian perspective – how people from this region not only have a different risk profile for disorders of thrombosis and haemostasis but also face significant challenges in access to diagnostic testing and delivery of health care, issues that are often taken for granted by clinicians and scientists in Europe and North America. This was followed by a marvelous overview by Chris Ward that described the close interaction between the coagulation and inflammatory systems and how dysregulation of these processes led to disease and identified potential therapeutic targets. Subsequent sessions on the first day included a comprehensive review given by Maria Teresa Abola on the new direct oral anticoagulant drugs and how their introduction might impact on management of patients in the region, presentation of clinical case studies of thrombophilia, as well as lectures on diagnosis and management of DVT and PE, and thromboprophylaxis, management of thrombocytosis and the clinical implications, diagnosis and management of HIT. Clinical case presentations were given by local fellows and residents with local and international invited speakers providing comment.

The second day included clinical case presentations and discussion relating to management of thrombosis and placental-mediated pregnancy complications and obstetric haemorrhage moderated by Claire McLintock, Gilda Martinez and Raul Quilamor. There was lively interaction and discussion from the audience and these sessions seemed to be very popular with delegates. Other topics on day two included management of patients with bleeding disorders, management of bleeding in patients on the new anticoagulants followed by a session on thrombosis in malignancy. The Educational Forum ended with an update on Dengue fever with an enlightening summary of national public health measures being adopted to reduce the impact of this mosquito borne virus, which is a significant public health issue in the Philippines.

Apart from enjoying the opportunity to hear excellent lectures and clinical cases about thrombosis and haemostasis, the ISTH Educational Forum provided an unrivalled opportunity to make new connections to develop future collaborations with clinicians working in the field of thrombosis and haemostasis in the Asia Pacific region, and the support of the ISTH in facilitating the meeting was hugely appreciated. It was incredibly encouraging to see a number of excellent poster presentations by fellows and residents exhibited at the meeting, which showcased the hard work and dedication of the upcoming generation of doctors who are interested in this field. By the end of the meeting, all the delegates left feeling enthusiastic and optimistic about the future for the specialty of thrombosis and haemostasis in this region, and the ISTH Educational Forum signaled the start of an exciting and important journey ahead.

It was only as delegates to the ISTH Education Forum began to head home that the enormity of the destructive effect of Super Typhoon Yolanda became evident. Initial estimates were of thousands of lives lost in the province of Leyte in central Philippines, with the destruction of 70-80 percent of buildings in the path of the typhoon; loss of telecommunications, power and no access to food, fresh water or shelter for people in affected areas. While this terrible news cast a pall somewhat over the success of the meeting – it also highlighted the importance of new friendships and a stronger sense of fellowship - and underscored the significance of building closer alliances in our region. Our hearts, best wishes and aroha go out to all those affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda and to paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur, "We will return.”

ISTH gratefully acknowledges Claire McLintock, ISTH Council, for the content above.

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